HumanKind?

It was interesting to hear Rutger Bregman this morning speaking about his new book “Humankind, A Hopeful History”. He believes that when the going gets tough, human nature tends to bring out the best in people.

I am sure that participants on Bear Grill’s “The Island” have been chosen because of their particular traits which will cause friction which will make for “viewer entertainment”. After all, who wants to watch people sitting on an idyllic beach co-operating and achieving game milestones like in “Virtual Villagers”?

Mr Bregman’s talk did get me wondering: how does this relate to what I have seen since the lockdown in March?

Butterflies

  1. All the social media organisers who have set up community groups that allow people to either volunteer to help those in their community or ask for help with items or jobs that need doing such as collecting prescription for those who have been advised to isolate due to pre-existing health conditions.
  2. Individual and companies who have been making PPE kit for our amazing NHS staff.
  3. Those who are doing events to raised funds for the NHS and in particular Captain Tom who has raised over £30m.
  4. Our Queen who has made several addresses to the nation over recent weeks at a time when we all needed a calming voice.
  5. Our NHS staff who have battled against CoViD19 despite the barriers they have faced.
  6. All our civil forces who are continuing to work despite the increased risk that they are facing; from police officers to the council crews that have not missed a single bin collection day.

Others

  1. If you have made a mistake, act like an adult and admit it! Trying to bluff your way out of it in a public forum is not advised.
  2. Does writing a self-published book make you a health expert? Would you trust a someone who calls themselves a therapist after doing a 25 hour online course?
  3. Please do not call yourself a “doctor” without having enrolled and graduated from a recognised University. This will normally have taken at least 3 years full time and involved many hours reading past papers culminating in a thesis which is normally followed by a viva.
  4. A local man riding home on his bicycle from his shift at the local hospital was physically attacked by a group who had deemed that he/she is not an “essential worker”.  Stop shouting at drivers because you think they are on a “non-essential” journey.
  5. Devising CoViD19 help related emails as a means of scamming businesses and individuals.
  6. Deliberately coughing upon / spitting at people and saying that you have CoViD19.

Many of us have discovered a newfound peace in our enforced lockdowns. I see more families out walking with their children, people have discovered the value of community spirit and are taking care of neighbours. We have found time to grow plants and vegetables, read books and hear birds sing in the garden.

However, do look out for those in need such as people who have lost their financial security or are worried about their business folding.

Early last month, Refuge reported a 700% increase in daily calls; If you have concerns about anyone’s security, please contact the authorities.

Posted in Life in the TIme of CoViD19, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

SHOULD WE BE USING HORMONES TO BOOST IMMUNITY?

Until a safe and effective CoViD19 vaccine has been developed, identifying antiviral medications that help patients would be a great tool for medical teams. We have become familiar with names such as Remdesivir and Hydroxychloroquine from mentions in the news. However, I was quite surprised to hear about HRT being touted as a drug that could boost immunity.

It is already well known that women live on average around 6 years longer than men and the latter tend to suffer more from chronic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension. Both SARS and MERS affected more men than women, so surely it must come as no surprise that the same would apply to CoViD19, especially as women tend to wash their hands more regularly.

The immune system is complex, however, based upon animal studies, being female has identified certain advantages including:

1. Located on the X chromosome, the Toll Like Receptor 7 (TLR7) can identify viruses in the body. As women have 2 chromosomes, the inference is that they have double the number of these TLR7 proteins than men, thus double the number of alarm and response signals.

2. Mice studies have shown that females produce more neutralising antibodies.

3. Oestrogen also plays a part in our body’s immune system by stimulating the production of interferons. Here again, animal studies in 2017 have shown that more mice with their ovaries removed died after infection with SARS CoViD than those that had been left with their ovaries.

So, one part of the answer may lie with oestrogen, hence the theories:

  • Oestrogen helps women’s bodies.
  • Oestrogen is good against viruses.

Suddenly, we now appear to have HRT protagonists extrapolating:

  • HRT is oestrogen.
  • Therefore, HRT oestrogen is good.
  • By taking HRT, you are going to be protected from getting viruses.
  • So here is another good reason to take HRT.

This without even pausing to consider the effects of trying to highlight HRT as an answer to CoViD19 has on the following groups of people:

  1. I am in my mid-twenties. I do not need HRT and I certainly do not want any contraceptives.
    I am going to be more likely to die from CoViD19
  2. I am a man. I do not have a lot of oestrogen. I cannot take HRT.
    I am going to be more likely to die from CoViD19, just like the newspapers say
  3. I have / had oestrogen positive breast cancer. I cannot take any form of HRT.
    I am going to be more likely to die from CoViD19.
  4. I am menopausal but do not believe that HRT is safe/ do not want to take drugs / believe menopause is a natural process.
    I am going to be more likely to die from CoViD19
  5. Various voices: I am on HRT and I still got CoViD19,  
    I think this theory about HRT is rubbish.

    Up pop the usual suspects Edna, Sharon, Karen and various social media Bots:

    “Oh you must be on the old HRT, that one does not help with CoViD19. Please see this link to Dr MadeALotofBucks who explains this in their latest video.
    Oh and by the way to the lady who’s had breast cancer, Dr MadeALotofBucks also has a video and has written this article to say you can take HRT even if you’ve had cancer because the new body identical forms are safe”.

WHY ARE WE DOING THIS?

I do not expect either Edna, Sharon or Karen to change their minds, but I do question the motive and need to spend a lot of money as well as kill more animals to study the effects of HRT on CoViD19, when this is potentially only going to only be of benefit to a small percentage of the population.

Do you even think you will obtain any meaningful human data before we have a vaccine which will be suitable for everyone?

Posted in CardioVascular Health, CoViD19, HRT, Immunity, Life in the TIme of CoViD19, Long Term Health, Menopause, MERS, SARS | Leave a comment

A FORGOTTEN SERVICE?

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Today I spotted a post on a friend’s social media page which really struck a chord and made me realise that our prison officers are part of an almost invisible profession: our “hidden heroes”.

Day by day, these men and women work unsociable shift patterns, living a lot of their life behind high walls with those that the legal system has determined need to be kept off our streets. Being a prison officer is a stressful job; you have to be on your toes all the time, with eyes behind your head and the ability to defuse various situations that can arise within nanoseconds. Thinking that no one has recognised what you have done that day, let alone what you do for society does not make you feel valued as a person.

Add to this the fact that, because of the nature of your job and the security documents you have signed, you cannot talk about anything you do during your shift with your family and friends, not now, not ever, and it’s hard, really hard.

The addition of a global pandemic of a previously unknown virus that spreads rapidly within people in close contact creates an increased level of anxiety within inmates who have been told they can only meet up in small numbers and are no longer allowed visitors.

Like medical staff, prison officers cannot practise “safe distancing”; the very nature of their job makes physical contact unavoidable. However, PPE equipment such as full-face visors compromise physical security, so the only protection they can use are gloves, assuming supplies are adequate. Lack of testing kits for a long period of time meant they also had to worry about taking more than an empty lunch box back to their family…

Imagine then stopping off at a supermarket after a stressful shift to try and buy a sandwich or maybe a pint of milk, only to find that you’re prevented from entering because it’s “essential staff only hour” and the system does not recognise you as an essential worker? You’re not going to get that box of goodies, no one is clapping you off to work and forget any extra data from your mobile provider!

None of these officers would look to take away any gratitude towards the NHS or the other  services that are regular mentioned in the media, but I believe they deserve credit for everything they do, and during this period in particular.

I know my friend is supported by a loving family and has learnt to compartmentalise his job from his life in the community. If you walked past him in the street, chances are he would smile at you; he’s that kind of person. Dig deeper and you will find someone who commands respect, a caring person who will give 100% towards volunteer events and programmes that help those in need.

He has stood by me in the past, so now it is my turn. Please spare a thought for him and his colleagues.

Thank you.

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SMALL BUSINESS, SMALL WORLD!

Presenting an award has always been an honour; a day filled with excitement, anticipation and it’s truly inspiring to meet so many people who are doing incredible things and hear their individual stories. 


Held in the Midland Hotel in Manchester, an award-winning venue that has been hosting VIPs from all walks of life for over a century, the occasion did not fail to delight. From the moment of walking into the stunning lobby to the great service provided by the staff, you knew it was going to be a memorable day.

After a mouth-watering first course of melt in your mouth beef, it was soon my turn to go onto the stage. Weaving my way past tables where the food and wine had been flowing, I kept my fingers crossed that no one’s going to suddenly push their chair into me whilst at the same time taking care not to trip over any cables or on the steps up to the podium. It’s not all glamour.. !

“And the Award for Young Entrepreneur of the Year goes to…” I paused, not for dramatic effect, but to make sure that I’d read the winner’s name properly (the last thing you want to do is to mispronounce something when you know all the eyes in the room are upon you!)… “Stephanie Buttery” 

After the photographs, Stephanie moved across the stage to chat with Dave Sharpe, our compere of ceremonies. You can imagine my surprise when I overheard him mentioning HMS Albion; I knew that name!

Back in 2018, the CEO of one of the companies I work for in the UK had sent me several photos taken when HMS Sutherland had been based in Tokyo. He had been asked to drive one of his Aston Martins, the iconic DB5, to the docks to have photographs taken alongside, the frigate followed by a tour onboard and tea with the Commander. 

HMS Sutherland’s visit was due to be followed up by HMS Albion later that year and although my contact had not visited the Albion, he had mentioned that the local Aston Martin showroom would be taking some of their cars to the docks when the ship visited later on that year.

As we waited for the rest of the category nominees to come up onto the stage for the group photo, I carried on chatting with Stephanie and arranged to meet up during the next ceremony break. 

It didn’t take long to find out that, not only did we have other mutual contacts within the Navy, but she had also been in touch with the British military attaché in Tokyo, a good friend of my Japanese principle. I had met this Captain and his lovely wife last year at a rugby match, bonding together with some other veterans over a thoroughly decadent Trafalgar celebration dinner and a few bottles on board HMS Victory in Portsmouth and have remained in touch ever since.

With Stephanie’s permission, I took a photo of her and her award and sent it to the Captain on WhatsApp and within minutes he replied: “omg!!! This is fantastic!!! Tell her I said a big hello!”

Add to this the fact that I had a mutual friend on Instagram with one of the companies on the table I was hosting, it was truly a day of curious coincidences. 

Some things are just meant to be…!

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Coffee

DeCaf Coffee

Would you be surprised to discover that decaf coffee is in fact not 100% caffeine free?  I know I was when I first found out a few years back at a conference.

Unfortunately, if you were under the impression that drinking decaf means you’re not ingesting any caffeine, then please be aware that this is incorrect.

Decaffeination has to be undertaken on the green beans before they are roasted and although this process removes most of the caffeine from the coffee beans, this is rarely a 100% removal.  To date, none of the decaf products sold in this country are 100% caffeine free.

Most coffee that is sold worldwide as decaf or “free from” will more than likely contain a percentage of around 2-3% caffeine (different types of beans may end up containing a higher percentage after the process).

If you are generally happy that you’ve reduced your caffeine intake quite significantly by selecting the decaf option and accept that there will be some residual caffeine, then all is well.

However, do be careful if you’ve been asked to attend a medical test: it appears that some people have been caught out when drinking what they believed to have been decaffeinated cups of coffee when attending appointments and tests that had specifically requested that no caffeine should be consumed beforehand.  Sadly, these patients have been forced to reschedule, with the inevitable delay in their diagnosis and treatment.

Another point to consider is that the decaffeination process has, until recently, involved using chemicals such as methyl chloride (a known carcinogen, albeit, we are assured, in quantities lower than those recognised as toxic by recognised health authorities such as the FDA).

However, as manufacturing companies are increasingly taking consumers’ preferences into account, a process of decaffeination that uses only water has been developed.  If you see decaf products in the supermarkets that have been manufactured using this method, then they are more than likely going to be labelled as “organic”.

I understand that one of the main high street chains is now also using these coffee beans.

Posted in Fun Stuff, Just Thinking..., Long Term Health | Leave a comment

Menopause Symptoms

Mood Swings

Whilst hot flushes and sweats are the 2 things that get mentioned the most when the subject of menopause symptoms comes up, mood swings can be equally devastating, because they are not only detrimental to those who suffer, but to those around them.

I Know Mood Swings Have Affected Me

Women may notice that they were no longer the happy go lucky person they once were and this itself can make things worse for them.

Mood Swings – Me? I Don’t Think so!

At the other extreme, I’m sure that we can all think of someone we know who had steadfastly refused to acknowledge any changes in their behaviour: “oh there’s nothing wrong with me, I’m fine, REALLY FINE!”  If you know someone like that, it’s easy to lose the nerve to speak to them frankly and avoid a situation which has the potential to escalate into a full-blown row.

We’ve all noticed someone who has become less fun to be around: they can be short tempered, less tolerant and sadly, some start to reach for the bottle, a habit which can escalate.  I’ve known people who go to the extent of vodka in water bottles taken to work and don’t even consider the fact that they might be still over the limit when they drive to work in the morning.

So What Can I Do About My Mood Swings?

There are various things you can try and see if they can help you, as I know they have done with others.  We will talk more about all of this in our detailed section.

Posted in Menopause, Menopause Symptoms | Leave a comment

Natural Remedies for Menopause

Are These Natural Products Good For You?

That product may be labelled or described as natural, but is it really safe?

There are many hundreds of products on the market for women who cannot or chose not to take hormonal HRT or other medical drugs, but how do you navigate your way through the myriad of pills and potions?

Where has the Product Been Made?

You should be looking for products that are manufactured by Companies who have the correct certificates of Safety, Quality & Hygiene.  Sadly, it’s quite easy for the less scrupulous to use false certificates, so just beware…

Wherever possible, stick to products that are made and packed in the UK – Britain is best (got to support local business where you can!), together with Japan where there are very high standards within the consumer healthcare market and of course the USA.

Where buying from overseas, you can always check with the commercial division of the country’s embassy/Consulate for details of the manufacturer.

Is it a Kitchen Sink Approach?

There are a large number of products with several herbs together with vitamins and minerals. More is not necessarily great and unless the manufacturer can provide details of independent data that confirms it is safe to combine X herb with Y herb, just be careful.

Some products which have been commonly marketed for menopause such as Black Cohosh have been associated with liver damage. Kava has been banned in the UK since 2002 for the same reason and more recently Green Tea in pills (as opposed to the tea in leaf or bag form that you brew and drink) has also been associated with liver toxicity.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that certain herbs may be used in cooking, but only in small quantities and not every day; for example Sage. I am not aware of any long term trials that have been undertaken on cullinary herbs and spices to confirm daily usage at high doses is safe.

In the past I’ve taken combination products and wondered why I felt/was sick; now I understand why.

First of All, Double Check the Celebrity Endorsers of these Natural Remedies

Martin Lewis has been the subject of many spoof adverts online claiming that he has endorsed a product/service.  To make this very clear, this week he has posted a photo of himself on his Facebook page with the words “I don’t do Ads”.

You would be amazed at the number of companies, both small and large who believe it’s their right to market themselves based on falsehoods.

This Naural Remedy for Menopause Has Got Loads of Great Reviews!

Reviews are a great way of us communicating feedback our experience(s) to others and can be very helpful.  It’s well worth taking the time to read through comments and get a feel of the product. Are they dated? Are they regular and seem genuine (go with your gut on this one).

Please also beware of sites listing a whole number of happy customer comments – how many times have we heard of false ratings?! Some companies will even go to the extent of creating false identities online in an attempt to bolster sales.

Does The Company Provide Support?

We often need advice and support in life, particularly when going through the menopause.  Finding a product that has a good after sales service, ideally manned by women that know exactly what you are going through, makes all the difference.

This is particularly important if you have come across a product online; call them, can you speak to someone in house who has used the product? Again, just be careful; using Skype means you can actually see who you are speaking to and confirm they are who they say they are.

How Long Should I try a Natural Remedy For?

I would say 1 month should be more than enough; with our product, if people haven’t seen benefits kicking in within this time, we would advise to discontinue and move onto something else.

Posted in Just Thinking..., Menopause, Natural Remedies | Leave a comment

Motherhood

Giving Birth

As the country welcomed its latest royal baby this week, mothers across the country may have been taken back to that moment in their life when they too left the hospital carrying their baby together with all those post-partum emotions and physical reminders of recent months.

For anyone under the illusion that you’re going to fit in those pre-pregnancy jeans the moment you reach home… dream on! It won’t happen for a few weeks and then only if you remember to keep doing the exercises that the physio lady has given you on those sheets! Your feet may still be swollen, you may be sore in places you didn’t know existed and all of us, yes ALL of us, regardless of age, colour of eyes or position in society, will be wearing granny pants and panty liners-it’s perfectly natural to experience some blood loss after giving birth. Further details on this can be found via this site:

https://www.nct.org.uk/parenting/guide-blood-loss-after-birth

However, as always, if you have any concerns or experience any abnormal bleeding and/or pains or cramps, please consult your GP immediately.

It’s All Very New!

If it’s your first child, expect at times to feel overwhelmed at times, scared, concerned (I can remember calling a friend who was a nurse worried that something was wrong with my daughter because she seemed to keep holding her breath from time to time.)

If they cry, when they won’t feed, or it hurts just to think of those gummy lips cramping themselves like a limpet on your sore nipples again and yet you want that baby to wake up and feed because your breasts feel like they are going to explode, you’re going to feel like the worst mum in the world, but you’re more than likely doing it all right.

With time, everything will become so much easier and if you have another baby later, there is a wonderful sense of ease in just knowing that you’re not going to be baffled by a top and tail tub or why your new born is suddenly pooping mustard.

Lack of Sleep

My biggest issue was always lack of sleep and just feeling like a zombie; most babies may have problems sleeping, so I just grabbed whatever kip time I could while they nodded off; even a 40-minute snooze helped.  I managed to get through 16 months when my son didn’t sleep for longer than an hour at a time after his inoculations.

And for those of us who don’t have close family and friends (or a Norland nanny) to help out, please don’t be hard on yourself. It doesn’t matter that the floor hasn’t been hoovered today or that it’s beans on toast for dinner again.  Eventually they do all sleep through the night and believe me, when they get to their teenage years, it’s even harder getting to wake up in time for school!

One day you too may see a celebrity baby on the news and think “Awww, I remember when…”

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Menopause Support

Bad Sleep?

At a Menopause Society conference many years ago, I heard a talk given by a nurse who recommended that women with PMS should add magnesium to their diet in the form of supplements. She also mentioned that the supplement was useful for women going through menopause who were having problems with sleep.

There is nothing worse than waking up in the night and not being able to get back to sleep. You lie there tossing and turning, probably stressing yourself into a few night sweats in the process.  Of course, it’s at this point when your mind seems to switch into major alert mode and all those things you’ve got to do start forming into wonderful lists in your head.

I used to call it the Witching Hour; it would start around 01:50 and could last up to three hours at its worst. Falling asleep when you know the alarm clock is going to go off in around 2 hours is really the worst, especially when it happens night after night.  You can’t function as a human being, let alone an employee, mother or cook.

However, as it was recommended, both myself and fellow attendee dutifully purchased some magnesium supplements and gave it a whirl.  Although my beans had pretty much given me a decent night’s sleep most of the time, there was still the odd night when I’d still wake up and toss and turn.

I was quite surprised, and quite delighted that the additional magnesium seemed to do the trick and more importantly continues to do so. I’ve adapted it to suit my lifestyle and recommend it to anyone who may be having similar issues.

Please check out our Blog on Magnesium itself

Posted in Long Term Health, Menopause, Sleep | Leave a comment

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