U The Caribbean Health Digest - Issue 39

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Editor-in-Chief Medical Advisory Writers

Nichogen AT NICHOJEN WE ENVISION, INNOVATE, DELIVER, AND INSPIRE! With over 30 years of experience, we offer a range of electrical installation services, energy conservation solutions, smart home system designs, and consulting services for all your electrical needs. In alignment with our culture of sustainability and over a decade of expertise in renewable energy, we provide consulting for solar, wind turbine, hydropower, and hybrid system designs. Schedule your consultation today, and stay tuned for the launch of our GREEN GADGETS line of products!


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This information is of a general nature only and is not intended as a substitute for professional health advice and no person should act in reliance on any statement contained in the information provided and at all times should obtain s p e c i f i c a d v i c e f ro m a h e a l t h professional. Eidetic Publishing has made reasonable efforts to ensure that the health information contained herein is accurate and up to date. To the extent permitted by law, Eidetic Publishing, their employees, agents and advertisers accept no liability

(even if negligent) for any injury, loss or damage caused by reliance on any part of this information. U also contains information supplied by third parties. This information is identified with the name of the source and has been chosen for publication because we believe it to be reliable. To the extent permitted by law, Eidetic Publishing, their employees, agents and advertisers accept no liability (even if negligent) for any injury, loss or damage caused by reliance on any part of this information.

U The Caribbean Health Digest is published 4 times a year by Eidetic Publishing, The Light, Level 2, West Wing LP #80 Calcutta Settlement Road No. 1, Freeport, Trinidad & Tobago. Distribution is handled by Eidetic Limited.

Entire contents are copyright. Reproduction in part or whole is prohibited. Eidetic Publishing is in no way affiliated with companies or products covered in U. Produced and printed in Trinidad & Tobago.

is the first step in winning THE FIGHT AGAINST CANCER Cancer is often unpredictable but there is always something you can do to help reduce your risks. The Trinidad and Tobago Cancer Society recommends and promotes screening for early detection of certain cancers. OUR SCREENING SERVICES INCLUDE: • • • •

Mammograms Clinical Breast Examinations Pap Smears Ultrasounds: Breast, Abdomen, Pelvic, Obstetric, Doppler, Thyroid • Biopsies • Prostate Examinations: DRE (Digital Rectal Examination), PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) • Blood Tests • Consultations • Fecal Immunochemical Test (FIT) - A new way to test for colon cancer

OUR MOBILE CLINICS: The TTCS also operate Mobile Clinics which provide screening services throughout Trinidad and Tobago. These mobiles are available by appointment to business institutions for the benefit of their staff and/or sponsored public health fairs. These are fully equipped to conduct Pap Smears, Clincal Breast Examinations and Prostate Examinations, PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) testing.

GET REGULAR CANCER SCREENING. For more information on our screening services or to make an appointment



226.1221 or 800.TTCS projects@cancer.tt www.cancertt.com

In 2018 we wrote our last founding editor’s letter, at least for some time to come. The issue marked our tenth year of publishing and featured a global topic of interest, Climate Change and Its’ Impact on Human Health. Though it wasn’t intended, circumstances at that time didn’t allow us to continue to publish U as other essential factors became our priority for our company and us. Fast forward three years later, and while Climate Change continues to be a growing global concern, we’ve found ourselves living amidst a worldwide pandemic, COVID-19, that not only threatens our lives and livelihoods but humanity as a whole. We’re living in a time where no amount of information seems to be enough. In a COVID-19 world, saying that humans are curious is an understatement; it’s more like we are desperate for information in copious amounts, and we are lapping it up from any and every source. It is on this principle that we have decided to relaunch U The Caribbean Health Digest and re-establish our position as one of the leading sources for credible health information in the Caribbean. The passion of our team to continue to bring awareness on matters related to health and wellness is still very much alive. As always, our objective is centered around creating healthier people and communities, and this will continue to be at the forefront of every issue and article we publish. Couple this enthusiasm with some of the biggest and most exciting news ever, and we are bound for another successful ten-year run and beyond. You may remember one of our past issues back in 2010 where we featured a young teenager in an article titled “When Kids Get In BeTween – Decoding the Preteen Years.” Well, we are thrilled to inform you that this teen has grown into a young and brilliant adult, recently graduated with her degree in Psychology, and now enrolled at Harvard University to complete a Masters in Psychology with a focus in Cognitive Neuroscience. Amira, our daughter, has now taken a lead role in this publication as its Editor- in-Chief and we couldn’t be prouder. She’ll share more with you inside. There was very little that needed to be changed with U, but what we have done is adapted to the use of new technology and will now bring our publication to you digitally, at absolutely no cost! We encourage you to read, learn and share!

Stay Safe, Stay Healthy! SHERINE & STUART


DEAREST READERS, We’re so thrilled to have you back for another issue of U and, if this is your first read then, welcome! This issue is extremely special because we’re finally back, and as you may have noticed, we’ve gone digital. We see so much reward in moving to a digital space. Firstly, it’s better for the environment, and we feel privileged to be one of the many companies making an effort to be more eco-conscious. Secondly, we get to reach more of you. Our goal from the beginning was to educate and spread awareness on health issues throughout the Caribbean, and today, our goal remains the same. We gathered an incredible team of knowledgeable and talented physicians, nutritionists, trainers, psychologists, and researchers to continue educating, guiding, and enlightening you with information relating to one of the most significant aspects of life; health. In this issue, we discussed one of the most controversial topics today, The COVID-19 Vaccine. In this article, we break down COVID-19, address the speculations, and simply put, bring the facts. You’ll also find an article that gives you all the tools to take a mental trip to someplace soothing, clear your mind, and renew your inner peace. I’m speaking about Mindfulness Meditation, written by one of our very own Caribbean sisters, Mica Symone. We’ve included a Guide to Exercise for Older Adults, an overview on Schizophrenia which is a mental disorder that affects millions globally, and an article with the details about Lactose Intolerance, a common condition that affects seventy percent of the world’s population. In addition to this, we interviewed one of our very own from Trinidad and Tobago about their journey with substance dependence and rehabilitation. I won’t spoil any more surprises, but I will say that in front of you is a magazine filled with an abundance of helpful information, all pointing in the direction of a healthier life. I am eager for you all to read it, share it, and most importantly, benefit from it. We sincerely hope that you enjoy this issue as much as we enjoyed putting it together.



10 Adding Mindfulness to your Meditation Mindfulness or meditation? What’s the difference? Dive into these healing practices and learn ways to appreciate the little things in life by adding mindfulness to your meditation. Whether you’re a beginner or expert in the world of meditation, this article brings a refreshing outlook on mindfulness healing.

12 To Vaccinate or Not We discuss one of the most controversial topics today and answer some of the most asked questions relating to the COVID-19 vaccine.

18 A Guide to Exercise for Older Adults The idea of staying active as you age seems challenging but understanding what the body goes through and ways to offset some of the symptoms of aging begins in this article. Learn about sarcopenia and ways to incorporate exercise in your life as you age.

20 Understanding Renal Failure We define kidney failure and analyze its causes, signs, symptoms, and treatments in this article. We discuss different types of dialysis and how it works to help the body recover.

24 Apple Cider Vinegar Despite its bitter taste, apple cider vinegar is known to be one of the oldest, most affordable, and most versatile remedies. But what exactly does it do? This article gives you the top five benefits of apple cider vinegar.

26 You might be Lactose Intolerant Lactose intolerance is more common than you might think. In fact, it affects approximately 70% of the population. Find out if you fall into that bracket, and if you do, don’t panic because we have suggestions.

30 Lemongrass or Fevergrass So many names and so many benefits. We cover it all in this article, from the history to the uses. Plus, we’ll leave you wanting to plant some lemongrass.

32 Substance Abuse and Rehab For many individuals, the first step toward recovery is acknowledging and coming to terms with their struggle with substance dependence. In this conversation, we learn more about the road to recovery from someone who has already been there.

38 Schizophrenia Schizophrenia is one of the most severe mental conditions affecting millions worldwide. A clinical psychologist describes the signs, symptoms, causes and, treatments for the disorder.











It’s official, we’ve entered a new age. If we’re not setting personal development goals, we’re bending ourselves into pretzel shapes in the name of yoga. As we crave more meaning and purpose in our lives, the topic of mindfulness and meditation has never been more popular. As we seek to discover answers, the question turns to the difference between mindfulness and meditation. Are they exclusive, or are they the same? Despite the confusion, what is becoming clear is our need for both and the benefits that they bring.

STATE OF MIND VS. PRACTICE Mindfulness is described as the quality or state of being conscious or aware, while meditation is deemed the practice of meditating, which is a mindful practice. Mindfulness is being, and meditation is doing. Most people think of the stereotypical portrayal of meditation that involves sitting upright, legs crossed, and humming ‘Om.’ Though the seated practice might somewhat tick those boxes, there are several different types of meditations. THESE INCLUDE: • Visualization meditation • Breathwork • Guided meditation • Reciting mantras Through meditation, we can achieve mindfulness. It is simply the act of being present and aware of our surroundings. Despite the hustle and bustle of modern-day life, we can cultivate a more peaceful and conscious existence through mindfulness and meditation. As some people retreat to rooms cloaked in darkness free from distractions, meditation is rarely seen as something we can do on the go. On the flip side, mindfulness is portable and can be accessed anywhere and at any time. With practice, being in the moment takes little to no effort and is not dependent on our surroundings or whether it is a suitable time to engage in such activities. Mindfulness is the symptom of meditation. It is one of the best treatments to enhance our well-being and bring positivity to our mental health. Instead of worrying about what we’re going to cook for dinner or paying the bills on time, both exercises can make us feel more in tune and aligned with our higher selves.

THE BENEFITS OF MINDFULNESS AND MEDITATION The positives surrounding mindfulness and meditation are endless. It can soothe our nerves and bring more joy into our lives. Let’s face it, how many of us spend our time racing around while trying to juggle multiple aspects of our lives. Everybody deserves to find their inner peace, and mindfulness meditations are the way to do it. SOME OF THE BENEFITS ARE: • Reduction in anxiety • Stress relief • Higher self-esteem • Increased self-awareness • A shift in negative emotions • Increased patience • Improved focus Whether we take 5 minutes out of our day to ‘be’ or appreciate the little things in life like the smell of freshly cut grass or the salty ocean air, mindfulness and meditation are just what the doctor ordered. This sacred practice can benefit us in many ways while helping us slow down and live life the way it was intended. It’s safe to say that both meditation and mindfulness have so much to offer. Though the lines may be blurred at times, they both serve a similar purpose. It can also help us to process our feelings and thoughts while improving the quality of our lives. We should enrich our days and tap into the wonderful abundance that our mind has to offer. Every day is a gift that should be celebrated, and mindfulness gives us the tools to do so.

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IT'S BEEN MORE THAN A YEAR OF LIFE IN A GLOBAL PANDEMIC. ALL WE WANT IS TO RETURN TO A STATE OF NORMALCY, BUT EVEN THAT SEEMS FAR-FETCHED. ONE THING THAT HAS BEEN HELPING OUR COMMUNITIES IS THE COVID-19 VACCINATION, BUT UNDERSTANDABLY, MANY PEOPLE HAVE SPECULATIONS. IS IT SAFE? WHY WAS IT DEVELOPED SO QUICKLY? WHO CAN TAKE THE VACCINE? CAN IT ALTER YOUR DNA? I mean, the list of theories can go on and on but how far from the truth are we? If you're someone who feels uncertain about the vaccine, you've come to the right place. We're here to discuss what we know so that you are better prepared to make a decision that best suits you.

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Q&A WHAT IS COVID-19, AND HOW DOES IT SPREAD? Coronavirus (COVID-19) is an infectious respiratory disease caused by SARS-CoV-2. It is spread through droplets of saliva or nasal discharge released in the air when an infected person speaks, laughs, sneezes coughs, or breathes.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF COVID-19? The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, cough, and fatigue. Other symptoms include loss of taste/smell, nasal congestion, sore throat, headache, muscle or joint pain, skin rashes, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea, chills, dizziness, and conjunctivitis.

Two of the most common types of vaccines are the: 1. COVID-19 mRNA 2. Viral Vector COVID-19

COVID-19 mRNA Vaccine The messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) teaches our cells to build pieces of proteins, known as spike protein, that triggers our body's immune system to create antibodies that protect us from the virus. LET'S SIMPLIFY THIS.


Think of the mRNA as a messenger carrying an instruction manual. Once the vaccine is injected into the upper arm muscle, the mRNA travels to the cell's cytoplasm, where the ribosomes read the manual and start creating spike protein. Once formed, the spike protein moves to the cell membrane, where the immune system recognizes a difference. This triggers an immune response that produces antibodies to fight against COVID-19. Once this process is complete, the cell breaks down and disposes of the mRNA.

The most common form of testing is the nasopharyngeal swab. Samples are collected from each of your nostrils and sent to a laboratory, where the material is examined to determine whether you are positive or negative for COVID-19.


Severe symptoms include shortness of breath, loss of appetite, confusion, pain, or pressure in the chest. COVID-19 symptoms vary, so while one infected person may experience severe symptoms, another may have no symptoms at all.

HOW IS COVID-19 TREATED? In mild cases of COVID-19, your doctor may recommend over-the-counter medications such as fever reducers to combat your signs and symptoms. For more severe cases, hospitalization and the use of steroids, oxygen treatments, and mechanical ventilation may be required.

HOW CAN WE PROTECT OURSELVES FROM THE VIRUS? Getting vaccinated is the number one way to protect ourselves and others from COVID-19. Mask wearing, social distancing, and proper hand hygiene also play a significant role in preventing the further spread of the virus. 14 | u


The vaccine would have given our immune system a preview of the virus itself which means that the immune system will immediately recognize the virus in our bodies. The antibodies will attach themselves to the spike protein on the virus and the spike pieces on infected cells, marking them for destruction.

VIRAL VECTOR COVID-19 VACCINE Viral vector vaccines use a harmless virus, called a vector, as a delivery system to send a genetic code to our cells. This genetic code mimics an infection and teaches our body how to create spike protein which prompts our immune system to develop antibodies against the virus.


Frequently Asked Questions



WILL I BECOME MAGNETIC? No, you cannot and will not become magnetic. The vaccines do not include any metals that cause magnetic attraction.

WHY DO SOME VACCINES REQUIRE TWO DOSES? IS THE VACCINE SAFE? All vaccines authorized for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration have been tested and declared safe and effective. Vaccines go through multiple stages of development before becoming accessible to the public. The first stage is the exploratory and pre-clinical, followed by three phases of clinical testing. After completing the three phases of clinical, the vaccine is approved and moved to manufacturing and post-marketing surveillance. While in distribution, they continue to be monitored.

VACCINES USUALLY TAKE YEARS TO DEVELOP. WHY WAS THE COVID-19 VACCINE DEVELOPED SO QUICKLY? Many factors played a role in the development of the COVID-19 vaccine. Here are a few: 1. The pandemic expedited steps in the process. 2. Technologies used in the development are much more advanced now than in prior years. 3. Many countries collaborated to share data about the SARS-CoV-2. 4. Governments contributed largely with financial resources so that companies had what was needed. 5. Due to the widespread nature of the virus, there were many volunteers readily available for clinical trials. Though the vaccine development was quicker than usual, safety measures remained a priority and skipped no steps.

CAN THE VACCINE GIVE YOU COVID-19? None of the approved vaccines contain the live virus; therefore, you cannot become sick with COVID-19.

WHY DO SOME PEOPLE EXPERIENCE SIDE EFFECTS AFTER GETTING THE VACCINE? This is your body's sign that your immune system is responding to the vaccine. Side effects aren't a bad thing; think of this as your body's way of earning immunity.

CAN THE VACCINE ALTER MY DNA? No, the vaccine cannot alter your DNA because it does not enter the cell's nucleus where DNA is contained.

The first shot does not provide as much immunity for some vaccines, so a second dose or "booster shot" is required to build more immunity. This does not imply that vaccines with one dose are less effective.

CAN EVERYONE GET THE COVID-19 VACCINE? No, while most people can get the vaccine, some are unable to due to underlying health conditions or immune system irregularities. Children under 12 are also unable to get the COVID-19 vaccine simply because we do not have enough information on tests conducted on children. Those who cannot get vaccinated become protected by other healthy individuals who are working to build herd immunity.

SHOULD I GET THE VACCINE IF I ALREADY HAD COVID-19? Yes. Experts recommend that individuals who have previously tested positive for COVID-19 should get the vaccine because "natural immunity" acquired from the virus varies from person to person.

HOW TO DETERMINE IF INFORMATION ABOUT COVID-19 AND THE VACCINE IS ACCURATE? It isn't easy to sort through information on the Internet. Ensure that your information is coming from a credible source that is regularly updated. Some of these include the World Health Organization (WHO), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Conclusion The choice to vaccinate remains yours, but we urge you to consider the benefits. You’ll not only be protecting yourself from serious illnesses, but those around you, and we would be one step closer to reaching herd immunity. However, if you’re still not convinced, we encourage you to do your research in an objective and unbiased way using credible sources. And remember, if you choose to become vaccinated, hang in there. Wear your masks, continue to social distance, and practice proper hand hygiene. 15 | u




Guide to Exercising for Older Adults WRITTEN BY BLAKE


The human body will go through many changes as it ages. It’s a natural process but can be different depending on a person’s lifestyle. If someone takes care of the body over time, it holds up and continues to be resilient. Whereas, if someone were to neglect the body and live a reckless lifestyle, the wheels would start falling off much faster. As an older adult, you tend to “lose” the things you don’t use. This includes your mobility, strength, and bone density. Luckily, there are many ways to prolong aging and, if you’re proactive and take to a healthy and active lifestyle, you can often slow down this process.

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In this article, we’ll break down what happens to your body as you age and discuss ways to create a healthy and active lifestyle.





Sarcopenia is the breaking down of muscle tissue as you grow older or stop using said muscle. This happens for many reasons, but most often, it’s due to a decrease in muscle-building hormones or exercise. We lose muscle as the aging process lowers our natural testosterone and HGH (human growth hormone) and when we stop using a specific set of muscles. Hormones decrease with time and lifestyle choices; it’s the way our bodies work. However, the body will slowly take energy away from tissues that aren’t being used to keep others running smoothly. This happens more frequently as you age. Thus, if you were to stop lifting heavy objects, you would slowly decrease the amount of muscle mass you have. Simply put, you would experience sarcopenia.

The last thing you can do is a little addition to being active. Adding in resistance training is one of the BEST things you can do to combat sarcopenia. Not only does it help preserve muscle, but it also signals the body to make more. In addition, it kickstarts a cascade of events that boosts testosterone levels.

Being healthy and active doesn’t have to be complicated.

WAYS TO COMBAT SARCOPENIA There are a few ways in which you can combat the onset of sarcopenia. While some muscle loss will always happen with age, you have the choice to work against it.


First, you’re going to want to stay active. Like we discussed before, the body begins removing what it isn’t using. Now, this doesn’t mean you need to be hardcore in the gym. Actually, you should be more worried about overworking your body. This increases your risk for injury, which can only put you behind on staying active. The key is to find something that you can do continuously for an extended period while also recovering correctly.

As far as staying active goes, it would be best if you focused on starting small. If you haven’t been that active, you could start by taking a few walks a week. If that’s too much for you right now, start with a few trips to the mailbox a day. If you’re someone who’s kept active with age, see where you can add more to the equation. The human body likes a challenge no matter the age.

Second on the list is protein intake. As you age, your ability to utilize consumed protein decreases. This directly affects your body’s ability to build new muscle. You’re going to need to increase your intake to roughly 1g/lb of bodyweight if active. If you’re not as active, you may be able to get by with just .8g/lb of body weight. Now, you should always consult your doctor before doing this to make sure you don’t have any underlying issues with protein intake. If everything checks out, look to bring in more protein-rich foods like lean poultry, fish, and red meats.

Aging comes with its challenges, but you aren’t helpless to it. You can do things to be proactive, like staying active, lifting weights, and eating good food. Taking strides to keep up with your health will show once you reach this sweet period of life. Things don’t have to get worse with age; in fact, they can get better than they ever were. All it takes is a few small changes to your lifestyle, and you’ll be set to go!

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Understanding Renal Failure 20 | u



WHAT IS KIDNEY FAILURE? Kidney or Renal failure is a life-threatening condition that occurs when both kidneys lose their functionality. The kidneys are a pair of bean-shaped organs located in the lower back. The primary function of these organs is to filter out the metabolic wastes and toxins from our blood and excrete them in the urine. This crucial process is lost during kidney failure that leads to the accumulation of toxins within the body. Kidney failure is divided into two types based on how long it takes to set in. Acute Renal Failure occurs when the kidney function deteriorates over a few days to weeks and poses an immediate threat to life. Chronic renal failure usually manifests over several months to years. Initially, it poses more concerns to the quality of life than to mortality itself. BUT WHAT EXACTLY CAUSES THE KIDNEYS TO FAIL? Several insults can cause your kidney health to deteriorate; these include: ● Direct exposure to toxins in the form of infections, medications (such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), medical contrast dyes, and environmental pollutants, et cetera ● Underlying medical conditions such as diabetes, autoimmune disorders, cardiovascular diseases, et cetera ● Direct trauma to the kidneys ● Obstruction in the passageway of urine flow ● Severe dehydration or blood loss, et cetera SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF RENAL FAILURE. Although a wide variety of symptoms may occur in an individual suffering from renal failure, there are also



possibilities that no symptoms are observed until the very late stages. Some may observe: ● Decreased urine output ● Swelling in the lower extremities due to fluid retention in the body ● Confusion, drowsiness, and extreme fatigue ● Difficulty breathing, chest discomfort ● Seizures and coma in late stages HOW IS KIDNEY FAILURE DIAGNOSED? Both invasive and noninvasive techniques may be employed to diagnose renal failure. Some of these procedures include: ● Urinalysis: The initial test where a collected urine sample is used to identify any underlying pathology. ● Kidney function tests: This includes blood tests that evaluate the level of Creatinine (Cr) and Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN), the two most common markers used to assess kidney function. ● Imaging studies: Ultrasounds, CT scans, and MRI visualize any obstruction or anatomical damage to the kidneys. ● Renal biopsy: A detailed analysis of a sample of kidney tissue under the microscope to accurately establish a diagnosis. HOW DOES DIALYSIS HELP IN RENAL FAILURE? The cornerstone management of renal failure, whether occurring in acute or chronic settings, is dialysis. This is a procedure that replicates the filtration function of the kidneys artificially. It is, however, essential to acknowledge that dialysis is not a cure. Dialysis is a temporary management option. Separate and adequate treatment regimens are required to tackle the underlying condition causing renal failure.

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TYPES OF DIALYSIS. Currently, two different types of dialysis are commonly offered to those with renal failure. They include: ● Hemodialysis: It is the most widely performed type of dialysis. Hemodialysis uses an artificial purifier called a hemodialyzer. The hemodialyzer is the filter that removes toxins, waste products, and excess fluids from the blood. Hemodialysis can be carried out for both short and long-term duration. Therefore, the vascular entrance point is made to the need and estimated plan of dialysis. A vascular entrance point is the blood vessel used to access the blood transferred to the dialysis machine for filtration.

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A single session of hemodialysis usually lasts around three-five hours, with typically three sessions per week. However, the frequency of treatment sessions is set according to the needs of the patient.

● Peritoneal Dialysis: It is the less frequently employed type, where peritoneal fluid is preferred over blood to perform dialysis. Peritoneal fluid is the potential fluid that lubricates the layers of tissue present between the abdominal organs and the abdominal wall. A special preparation called the dialysate is put into the peritoneal fluid and left there for a few hours. After the dialysate absorbs all waste products from the nearby blood vessels, it is drained out via the same route. Peritoneal Dialysis is repeated around four to six times daily. Renal failure can be daunting to think about, but many patients on dialysis have a good quality of life. It’s crucial to follow your doctor’s advice, remain aware of over-the-counter pain medication and the recommended dosing instructions, and keep a healthy lifestyle by exercising, eating properly, and drinking little to no alcohol. This can go a long way in preventing kidney failure.




Top Five Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar



Apple cider vinegar may not have the best taste or smell, but it's worth incorporating into your diet. From managing blood sugar levels to clearing your skin, apple cider vinegar is full of health benefits. Plus, there are many creative ways that you can use it in your cooking. Here are some of the excellent benefits of apple cider vinegar.

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1 2 3 4 5

It can Lower Blood Sugar Levels. One of the most impressive benefits of apple cider vinegar (ACV) is its ability to lower blood sugar levels. Taking apple cider vinegar after a meal can help stabilize blood sugar levels and manage diabetes. It can also increase insulin sensitivity. Studies have also shown that ACV can help stabilize waking blood sugar levels when taken before bed. If you have insulin resistance or diabetes, try incorporating ACV into your diet alongside your standard treatment.

it Can Help with Weight Loss. Many studies have shown that taking apple cider vinegar can help with weight loss. Many salad dressings contain calorically dense ingredients, such as cream, oils, or sugary sauces. Switching out these dressings for apple cider vinegar can help with your weight loss journey simply because it contains fewer calories. Other studies also suggest that apple cider vinegar can suppress your appetite, which leads to fewer calories consumed in a day.

Apple Cider Vinegar Can Help with Acne. Apple cider vinegar has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties that make it an excellent ingredient for clearing up your skin. You can use ACV as a facial toner and apply it directly to your skin but consuming it will also help soothe inflammation. The antibacterial properties help to get rid of the harmful bacteria that cause acne. ACV is also rich in antioxidants which help offset the signs of aging, such as fine lines and wrinkles.

It Can Improve Digestion and Bloating. Many people notice that ACV helps to reduce bloating and digestive discomfort. We rely on stomach acid to break down our food, but sometimes the environment is not acidic enough. This can lead to bloating, gas, and discomfort. Apple cider vinegar is highly acidic and can help increase the acidity in the stomach, which promotes digestion.

ACV is High in Antioxidants. Apple cider vinegar is high in antioxidants that fight off free radicals in the body. External factors such as pollution, diet, and stress increase the production of free radicals in the body, which can cause chronic diseases such as cancer and some neurological disorders. Antioxidants neutralize these free radicals and work with your body to prevent some of these abnormalities. The health benefits of apple cider vinegar are promising, but the research is still limited. ACV can be a fantastic addition to your healthy lifestyle and diet, but it is not meant to replace any medications. Listen to your physician and remember that apple cider vinegar should be an addition to a well-balanced, healthy diet and exercise. You can drink your ACV, make salad dressings with it, or even use it in your baking. It is also highly acidic, so make sure to dilute it with water if you choose to drink it. Otherwise, it can cause damage to your tooth enamel and may upset your stomach.




You Might be

o e

oler .

Here's What to Know.

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Around 70% of the world population is thought to be lactose intolerant, but only a few are aware. Despite being a common condition, many people ignore the symptoms and the possible treatments of lactose intolerance. To know more about this condition, keep on reading:

WHAT IS LACTOSE INTOLERANCE? Lactose is a type of sugar found in dairy-based products like cheese, milk, yogurt, and breast milk. Lactose is digested by an enzyme called lactase. People who are lactose intolerant have low levels of the enzyme lactase, which makes them less able to digest lactose or lactose intolerant. Lactose intolerance is usually primary, appearing after the age of five without an identifiable cause. Other times it is secondary to another condition, like a digestive infection or celiac disease. Lactose intolerance is usually acquired, which means it develops with age, and only rarely is it genetic, appearing at childbirth. Lactose intolerance can also vary depending on ethnicity, with specific populations like Africans and Asians being more lactose intolerant than Europeans or Americans. Lactose intolerance has many signs, all of which occur after the ingestion of dairy. WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF LACTOSE INTOLERANCE? When a lactose-intolerant person ingests lactose-containing products, they will display some symptoms as a result of the gut's inability to digest lactose. These symptoms include diarrhea, flatulence, abdominal cramps, burping, abdominal bloating, nausea, vomiting, or fatigue. Not everyone who is lactose intolerant will display the same symptoms, but they will experience these symptoms after the ingestion of dairy. The more dairy they have, the more intense the symptoms. Since these symptoms are not specific to lactose intolerance, many people ignore that they can't digest lactose. But it's



always helpful to know when someone is lactose intolerant because there are many ways to deal with it. HOW TO COPE WITH BEING LACTOSE INTOLERANT? Being lactose intolerant means that the body cannot digest lactose due to a lack of the enzyme lactase. Therefore, the two logical ways to cope with the problem are either supplementing with the enzyme lactase or avoiding lactose consumption. Many people choose to take lactase supplements. There are many types of supplements available on the market, and they allow the person to live a normal lifestyle without constantly having to read food labels or cook homemade meals. The other alternative is to remove lactose from one's diet. Lactose is a sugar present in dairy products, and thus eliminating it means restricting dairy from one's diet. Obvious foods to avoid are milk, yogurt, cheese, and butter. This can prove difficult as dairy is also used in a variety of other products like sauces, cookies, or ice cream. It's important to read food labels to ensure the absence of dairy in these products, which can be present under many names in the ingredient list: dairy, whey, or milk solids. Supplementing with plant-based non-dairy products keeps the diet diverse and protects the lactose intolerant person from feeling deprived. But, if you find it hard to give up on dairy, you can always try lactose-free dairy products or goat milk which is better tolerated for lactose-sensitive individuals.

Lactose intolerance is a common condition that is harmless but can be uncomfortable. Although the symptoms are non-specific, they are widely telling when they occur after the ingestion of dairy. Millions of us are lactose intolerant, but if you're concerned, take a note of your symptoms, medications, and diet to discuss with your doctor.

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Who says healthy eating isn’t easy? These easy-to-make lentil burgers are packed with fiber, protein, and not to mention, flavor. It only takes a few ingredients and is guaranteed to be a crowd-pleaser.

Yield: 6-8 servings. Ingredients: 1 2½ ½ 1 ½ 2 1 1 ¾ ¾ 6-8

Cup Dry Lentils Cups Water Teaspoon Salt Tablespoon Olive Oil Onion, Diced Carrots, Diced Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper Tablespoon Soy Sauce Cups Rolled Oats, Finely Ground Cup Whole-wheat Breadcrumbs Vegan Hamburger Buns


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1. Add the salt to the lentils and boil for 45 minutes or until soft. 2. Add the olive oil to a pan and sauté the onions and carrots for five minutes. 3. In a bowl, mix the cooked ingredients with the cayenne pepper, soy sauce, rolled oats, and breadcrumbs. 4. Form the mixture into patties. 5. Shallow fry for 1-2 minutes on each side or bake at 390 F for 15 minutes. 6. Place the patties in the buns and add toppings as desired.






What is the best vaccine?

What does a “new variant” of COVID-19 mean?

The best vaccine is the one available and approved by health authorities. The only way we can stand up against the virus is by achieving herd immunity. While it is understandable to want the “best” vaccine, waiting around for it may only lengthen the steps toward global normality.

Viruses are constantly changing through mutation. When there’s a change to the virus’s genes, it is referred to as a variant. Some variants emerge and quickly disappear while others continue to develop. This isn’t an unexpected process; in fact, viruses mutate over time in order to survive. Therefore, scientists are constantly monitoring and tracking variants of a virus to see if there are any changes in the way the virus functions.

Can I still get COVID-19 after receiving the vaccine? No vaccine provides 100% protection from the virus, so this means it is possible to test positive for COVID-19 after being fully vaccinated. This is known as a breakthrough case. However, in most breakthrough cases, people experience mild to no symptoms because the vaccine would have prepared their bodies to fight against the virus successfully.

We always enjoy hearing from you!

Email your questions to register@uhealthdigest.com



Lemongrass Barbed Wire Grass Citronella Grass Malabar Grass Cochin Grass Fever Grass

Silky Heads…

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There is hardly a Caribbean home that hasn't conceded to the almighty Fever Grass if not as one of the remedies, but certainly, one of the most touted preventative measures against the deadly coronavirus and, why not? While people in South Asia and other parts of the world have been using lemongrass as a flavoring in foods, people also recognize it as a natural remedy for many conditions and ailments in other countries. For centuries, people in the Caribbean have been using lemongrass, commonly called Fever Grass, as a fever suppressant. Since one of the most common symptoms of the COVID-19 virus is elevated body temperature, in this part of the world, we seemed to have had the answer a long time ago, at least for a fever. Native to Sri Lanka and India, lemongrass or 'Cymbopogon' can be found in many parts of the world and carries many benefits as its name changes from place to place. Our citrusy friends grow quite easily in tropical climates, and a single stalk can quickly form into a complete clump of long grassy blades. When it reaches its potential height and age, they gently bow, almost in anticipation of fulfilling its role as mother nature intended. Its uses are varied, but for those who swear by it, the reasons are consistent; from essential oils, aromatherapy treatment, fragrances in soaps, candles, and insect repellent, users all agree that the benefits of lemongrass are extensive. The myriad of medicinal uses makes lemongrass a much sought-after plant, and for those who can't access it in its raw form, the derivatives seem equally beneficial.

SPILLING THE TEA ON LEMONGRASS Teas are perhaps one of the most popular ways to consume lemongrass. For us in the Caribbean, we steep the leaves in hot water and sweeten to taste. It can be had as a hot drink or chilled in the refrigerator for a more refreshing beverage. Of course, if you want to add some more flavor to your tea, try some fresh ginger and a couple of cloves; each will bring its taste and benefits to your cuppa, but it's the citrusy flavor that can be pleasing to most palates. If you cannot grow your lemongrass, plenty of packaged teas (loose or tea bags) are available at most natural food and online stores. The choices are so vast and varied that you may be confused about the better tea to consume.



Our only recommendation here would be to go for the tea grown organically and one that meets the food and drug requirements in your country. Before we get into some of the benefits of lemongrass, it's essential to consider that there has not been sufficient research on lemongrass tea to qualify any standard dosage. Still, our motto here at our U editor's desk is always "everything in moderation," then couple that with a doctor's consult on what's best for you.


+ Some research suggests that lemongrass contains several antioxidant properties that can reduce free radicals in your body that have the potential to cause disease + Research also suggests that lemongrass has antimicrobial properties that may help treat oral infections and cavities + Two of the main compounds in lemongrass, citral, and geranial, are considered by researchers to have anti-inflammatory benefits + Studies also reveal that lemongrass may help to reduce high systolic blood pressure and regulate cholesterol (Journal of Advanced Technology & Research) + It has also been used wildly to promote digestion, ease upset stomach, and cramping + Lemongrass can be used as a detox or weight loss tea + Many have suggested that it relieves PMS symptoms + It can be used as a diuretic that helps the body rid itself of excess fluid and sodium + Lemongrass is used as a fever reducer

While lemongrass is safe to consume in food quantities, like with any other medication or herbal remedy, there are always some possible side effects worth mentioning by us and considering by you. These include dizziness, dry mouth, increased hunger, increased urination, and tiredness. In addition, if you have an allergic reaction to lemongrass, please get emergency help or consult your doctor. In summary, the benefits of lemongrass and many other plant-based herbal remedies passed on to us by our generations before may not have been scientifically proven. However, still, they have served humanity for thousands of years. We must be willing to accept that integrating herbal solutions backed by scientific evidence would allow herbal remedies to have a permanent place in modern medicine. 31 | u



Substance Abuse and Rehab A Conversation.

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Substance Abuse. These two words can raise goosebumps, churn stomachs, and awaken emotions we didn't even know we had. By no means is it an easy topic to discuss. There are lots of stigmas surrounding drug addiction, and alleviating stigma is never an easy job. The road to recovery is challenging, but what better way to understand it than by asking someone who has already been there.

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I realized I was addicted to substances when I was 18 years old, and I was okay with it. I was okay with it because I told myself that I would never stop due to how much I enjoyed the feeling or lack thereof. I told myself something like, "I'm addicted to drugs, but that's okay because even if I wasn't, I never want to stop."

Did that have an impact on your consumption?

Thinking back on the first time you ever took drugs, what was going through your mind?

The awareness of my addiction did not affect my consumption because I was always consuming as much as I was able to afford.

Thinking back to the first time I ever took drugs, my thought process at the time was that it was what my "cool" older friends that I looked up to were doing, so obviously, I'm missing out on something. Also, my favorite music is rap music, and drug use is especially glorified in that category. I'm trying to say that drug use was never frowned upon for me, and I was willing to do it as soon as the opportunity presented itself.

Did your relationship with your family and friends change after you started taking drugs?

Did you have a conversation with yourself about becoming addicted? Yes, I had a conversation with myself about becoming addicted. I told myself that if I decided to do the drugs, I will buy them and do them alone because if the worst-case scenario occurred and I become addicted, I don't want to have reason to blame anyone else or point fingers and say, "that person is the reason that I am addicted to drugs." It was a very serious internal conversation with myself. I deliberately deprived myself of that ability because I have seen many people addicted to substances and always blaming others and not taking responsibility for their actions.

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When did you realize you were addicted?

Yes, the relationship with my family and friends changed after I started taking drugs. I started spending much more time with the "friends" who were doing the same thing that I was doing because I didn't want to hear what my genuinely concerned friends had to say. They annoyed me, and I didn't care. The relationship with my family also started a downward spiral. The conversations generally became more hostile and aggressive.

Did you try to overcome your addiction on your own? If so, what did you do? I tried to stop taking benzos (benzodiazepines) once by cold turkey, and I experienced some of the worst withdrawals ever. I felt depressed, nauseous, and very irritable. The thing is, I never researched how to taper off of benzos, so immediately after I experienced those symptoms, I relapsed because I refused to feel the way I felt when trying to come off. I honestly didn't know the symptoms were temporary, and it definitely didn't feel like it was ever going to stop.




What prompted you to go to rehabilitation?

How important would you say it is to have a strong support group?

The fact that at the rate I was going felt like I was either very close to overdosing for the last time and dying or permanently losing my mind was what prompted me to go to rehabilitation. I voluntarily went. Nobody forced me.

Aside from the willingness to get sober, a strong support group was the second most important necessity for me. The feeling of loneliness can be deadly when first starting to get sober. Knowing that the people around me cared about me and were willing to do anything to positively impact my recovery made my journey a million times more enjoyable and doable.

Were you stigmatized for going to rehab? Because of how bad my situation got, the people that knew that I decided to go to rehab were much prouder of me than they were stigmatizing. I was more stigmatized for becoming a drug addict than I was for deciding to get help.

What would you say is the most challenging part about going to rehab? I would say that the most challenging part about going to rehab was at the beginning, and the realization that what I was doing at that moment was either going to kill me or drive me crazy and then making the decision that neither of those outcomes was what I wanted. It's simple but not easy. Millions of people are afraid of coming to terms with their situation and facing reality.

What are some key factors to recovery? A couple of key factors to recovery are being desperate and hopeless. When we are desperate and hopeless, we will do anything to get what we want. I believe that anyone struggling with substance abuse needs to experience these things before taking a step toward recovery.

What is one piece of advice you would offer to addicts reading this article? A piece of advice that I have for anyone reading this article struggling with addiction is having a conversation with yourself and deciding for yourself if you want to get sober and learn how to live life and handle its obstacles without using a substance. Don't try to get sober because somebody else wants you to. It will never truly work.

What is your life like now? Are there any changes in how you think about life? Honestly, I never imagined that life could be so enjoyable! On a day-to-day basis, I'm so clear and focused on what I want and who I want to be. My perspective on life has changed completely. Substances do not cloud my judgment, and the conversations that I have with people are almost always productive and beneficial in some way. I appreciate constructive feedback from whoever, and I do what is necessary to live the life I want. The list of changes in my life today can go on forever.

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Calling All Juice Lovers! RECIPE BY


A morning staple, midday pick me up, afternoon refresher, whatever the time when the question is juice, the answer is "YES!" Juices deliver vitamins, boost our immune system, help our digestion, and provide us with antioxidants, all while making our taste buds smile.We got our hands on this must-try recipe using ingredients you probably have in your backyard. It's filled with healthy goodness, and it's kid-friendly.

Tropical Paradise

_________ 2 SERVINGS Ingredients

1 cup papaya 1 cup pineapple 2 passion fruits 1 cup water Honey/Agave to sweeten


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1. Use a knife to cut the papaya lengthwise. Use a spoon to separate the seeds from the flesh. Remove skin from the fruit and cut into bite-size pieces. 2. Peel, core, and cube pineapple. 3. Cut passion fruit in half and use a spoon to remove seeds and flesh. Place into a blender to separate the pulp from the seeds. Strain the passion fruit juice. (Note: You can get more juice by adding some water to the seeds and running it through the blender a second time). 4. Blend the papaya, pineapple, passion fruit juice, and water until smooth. 5. Strain the juice using a cheesecloth or hand strainer to remove any pulp. 6. Add sweetener of your choice. 7. Serve chilled and enjoy.



to talk about


Coronaviruses are a family of viruses known to cause diseases ranging from the common cold to more severe illnesses.


COVID-19 is a disease caused by the novel coronavirus known as SARS-CoV-2. SARS-CoV-2 stands for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome – Coronavirus 2. COVID-19 stands for Coronavirus Disease 2019.




The term “novel coronavirus” comes from Latin origin with “novel” meaning “new” and “corona” meaning “crown,” which represents the crown-like spikes on the surface of the virus. Most coronaviruses are found in animals such as pigs, camels, bats, and cats. However, some coronaviruses can travel from animals to humans—for example, SARS-CoV (2003), MERS-CoV (2012), and SARS-CoV-19 (2019). Vaccines are used to stimulate a person’s immune system, triggering it to produce immunity to a specific disease and, therefore, protecting the person (CDC, 2018).




The World Health Organization has approved various vaccines for COVID-19. These include Oxford/AstraZeneca, Johnson and Johnson, Moderna, Pfizer/BioNTech, Sinopharm, and Sinovac.


Pfizer/ BioNTech and Moderna are considered mRNA (messenger ribonucleic acid) vaccines.


Johnson and Johnson, as well as Oxford/ AstraZeneca, are viral vector vaccines.


Both Sinopharm and Sinovac are whole virus vaccines. These vaccines use inactive pathogens that cause COVID-19 which initiates an immune response and provides immunity.

10. COVID-19 vaccines were tested in large, randomized trials, including people of different ages, sexes, ethnicities, and those with known medical conditions before being approved. They showed high levels of efficacy across all populations.




Schizophrenia Schizophrenia

An Overview. WRITTEN BY


Schizophrenia is a severe mental disorder that affects millions of people worldwide. It is considered one of the most debilitating disorders. Moreover, schizophrenia is not easily understood since it is a psychotic disorder that causes an individual to lose touch with reality.

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The individual not only finds it difficult to interpret what is happening, but others do so as well. Hence, understanding the symptoms and causes of schizophrenia better equip us to aid those that have schizophrenia. Besides, early diagnosis and treatment help reduce the symptoms before serious complications develop.




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The symptoms of schizophrenia are divided into two types – positive and negative.


The display of inappropriate affect is often unusual to the situation. For example, an individual may smile when being told terrible news.

Some symptoms are termed "positive" because they are bizarre additions or pathological excesses to an individual's behavior. Positive symptoms of schizophrenia include delusions, hallucinations, disorganized thinking, grossly disordered or abnormal motor behaviors, and inappropriate affects.




Delusions are irrational fixed beliefs that a person doesn't change, even in the light of contradictory evidence. They not only believe those ideas wholeheartedly but may also find them enlightening. Delusions can also be disturbing to the individual. The content of the delusion may vary from persecutory to grandiose, erotomaniac, referential, religious, or somatic.


Hallucinations are the heightened perceptions that occur with the presence of an external stimulus. For instance, an individual may see or hear someone when that person is not present. Hallucinations are clear and vivid and are similar to the everyday perceptions in impact and force. However, these are not voluntarily controlled.


Disorganized thinking is inferred from the speech. For instance, you may notice a switch from one topic to another during a conversation, irrelevant or obliquely related answers to questions, and other communicative issues. In rare cases, speech may be severely disorganized, resembling receptive aphasia, which you cannot understand.


You may observe grossly disorganized behavior from unpredictable agitation or childlike "silliness." This includes decreased reactivity to the environment, resistance to instructions, bizarre posture, repeated stereotypic movements, and lack of verbal or motor responses.

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Compared to the positive symptoms, negative symptoms are considered pathological deficits. An individual may exhibit diminished emotional expression, withdrawal from social activities and, lack of enthusiasm.

Researchers have proposed different theories determining the causes of schizophrenia. According to the diathesis-stress model, genetic researchers believe that some people may be genetically predisposed to developing schizophrenia, especially when they are encountered with stress in their life during adolescence or early adulthood. Moreover, toxins, immune reactions, birth complications, fetal development, and poor nutrition are also linked to schizophrenia. Many studies have found that individuals who are prenatally exposed to toxins and viruses may develop schizophrenia later in life. Studies have also connected schizophrenia to the abnormalities of certain parts of the brain and dysregulation of some neurotransmitters. Apart from these factors, social labeling, multicultural factors, and family dysfunction are also claimed to cause schizophrenia. For example, socially inadequate parents, cold and rejecting mothers, harsh and withholding environments during childhood, and double-bind communications. Whatever the cause, timely diagnosis is essential for the treatment of schizophrenia.


Cognitive remediation involves learning techniques such as drills, computer-based exercises, and coaching to resolve the issues with information processing. These exercises help the individual strengthen skills such as organization, planning, memory, or attention.




THE TOKEN ECONOMY: Behaviorists believe that the systematic application of operant conditioning techniques can help change the behavior of individuals who have schizophrenia. In these programs, patients are rewarded when they behave suitably to the situation.

FAMILY THERAPY: Family plays a vital role in the healthy development of an individual. As home environments and family dynamics strongly affect the individual, family therapy can address these issues by educating the family about the disorder, its causes, and ways to reduce the symptoms of schizophrenia, helping the individual live a better life.

In severe schizophrenic cases, hospitalization may be required. Some patients also benefit from psychotherapy, group therapy, and antipsychotic medication. In short, treatment can be carried out once the individual is diagnosed. Therefore, if you know anyone who has been suffering from schizophrenia or exhibits any symptoms, be compassionate and understanding, and try to convince them to seek therapy.

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THE NEXT U October to December 2021

SOCIAL MEDIA AND MENTAL HEALTH THE PROS & CONS. Acupuncture A traditional Chinese practice in Alternative Medicine. The Gut Microbiome What it is and how it affects your health. Breadnut Breadnut, Chataigne, or Katahar – The Health Benefits.

Article submission guidelines U strives to provide informative, educational articles emphasizing health and lifestyle in the Caribbean. We select articles that will appeal to our Caribbean audience that are uplifting, informative and pertinent to health and wellness. Policies U The Caribbean Health Digest retains the right and complete ownership of the articles written and published here. This means that if we publish your work in U, we can also publish in any another publication that we may choose, we will however always give credit to all our writers. All articles are accepted on speculation. Publication of any article cannot be guaranteed. U reserves the right to edit all copy.

Specifics All accepted articles will be accompanied by the byline and monetary compensation as set out in our writers’ contract. Letters to the editor We encourage Letters to the Editor commenting on recent articles published in our magazine. They are not peer reviewed as such, but are assessed in-house to make sure they are factual and non-inflammatory, etc. Submit all comments, letters and/or subscription requests to: U The Caribbean Health Digest, The Light, Level 2, West Wing LP #80 Calcutta Settlement Road No. 1, Freeport, Trinidad & Tobago or email us at info@uhealthdigest.com www.uhealthdigest.com Advertising. P: 868-280-3353 + 4536