Wellness Wednesdays – 5/3/17
Wellness Wednesdays is a MVMag.net-exclusive feature that curates the best health & wellness content from around the Valley and around the Web.
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WELLNESS TIP OF THE WEEK
Slicing The Stinking Rose: A Trick to Make Garlic Healthier
by Doug Sparks
Want to boost the healthy properties of garlic? Slice it 10 minutes before adding it to your salad dressing or using it as a topping for cooked veggies.
Allicin is a compound created when garlic is crushed, sliced or minced and is considered responsible for many of its health-properties. As allicin disappears quickly and is destroyed by heat, it is recommended that you eat the crushed or sliced garlic raw or slightly cooked for maximum health benefits.
Both tradition and folk medicine have maintained the health benefits of garlic. And who knows — this trick might help scare off a vampire or two.
HEALTH IN THE VALLEY
Taking Root with Medical Marijuana: Part 1 of 2
by Will Courtney (excerpted from a story in the March/April 2017 print issue)
Tucked away in a nondescript building near the Methuen-Haverhill line, the office of Delta 9 Medical Consulting is small and simple, the walls mostly bare. Traditional medical equipment is not apparent. The tinting on the window is adorned with the outlines of marijuana leaves.
The office belongs to Dr. Harold Altvater, one of about 179 physicians actively certifying patients to have access to medical marijuana in Massachusetts, a little more than four years after the state made medical marijuana legal in 2012. But if you think his practice is merely a rubber stamp — a way around the law for local potheads — he says you would be mistaken.
“What excites me as a clinician is it’s a brand new realm of medical therapy,” he says. “There are very few new therapies or drugs; most are just a repeat or refinement of a drug that is already on the market.”
Altvater has been taking care of people for most of his life. He worked as a medical lab technologist and a registered critical care nurse before going to medical school to become an anesthesiologist.
Though he says he tried marijuana as a young person and didn’t like how it made him feel, he researched its potential medical benefits for end-of-life care for a terminally-ill relative, but couldn’t access the drug. Through his research, he decided this was a new way to help patients cope with symptoms stemming from a vast array of chronic disorders, from arthritis to cancer, without the use of pharmaceutical drugs.
“We’re made to believe the reason to use [marijuana] is just to get high or an altered state of perception, and that there are no limiting benefits for it,” Altvater says. “Ninety percent of physicians fall into that category.”
But while medical marijuana may seem like a new therapy, its history dates back thousands of years. Historical accounts trace the use of marijuana, also known as cannabis, to 2723 B.C., when the Chinese prescribed it for conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, gout and malaria.
Even in the early 20th century it was used in more than 2,000 different drugs made by hundreds of different manufacturers, but the benefits were more anecdotal than based on data-backed research. It was first banned in the United States in 1937 in the aftermath of Mexican immigration. While some states have passed legislation that allows or protects marijuana use in some form, be it medical or recreational, under the 1971 Controlled Substances Act, the federal government considers marijuana to be a Schedule I drug — the same classification as heroin and LSD.
While marijuana advocates tout studies on the benefits of medical marijuana, even the drug’s adherents admit that much of their strongest evidence remains anecdotal.
Many of those anecdotes are powerful. Altvater has treated more than 1,200 patients, many for chronic pain, anxiety, gastrointestinal disorders and other afflictions, with minimal side effects. Though there are claims that marijuana can be addictive, Altvater says he has never heard a patient complain about withdrawal.
One of Altvater’s patients, who asked to remain anonymous due to a fear of being stigmatized by neighbors, says he managed his progressive arthritis with ibuprofen and acetaminophen for 30 years. The medication caused kidney problems, he says. He turned to a steroid and says that caused a dangerous infection in his esophagus.
With medical marijuana, he says his pain is “90 percent” improved and his kidney function is normal. On days he doesn’t use marijuana because he has to drive, he has no withdrawal symptoms.
“I have a life,” he says.
But here’s the problem — the process of obtaining medical marijuana remains outside the traditional medical realm.
Part 2 of this story will appear in next week’s Wellness Wednesdays.
WELLNESS AROUND THE WEB
Reduce Blood Pressure, Improve Mood with Forest Bathing
Don’t worry — in spite of the name, there’s no need to strip down for this type of “bathing.” The name of this technique actually comes from its Japanese origins as “Shinrin-yoku,” where the “bathing” aspect might be more accurately translated as “totally surrounding oneself/immersing oneself in the forest.” But that just doesn’t have the same ring to it, does it? Developed by Japanese researchers in the 1980s, this type of “forest therapy” — in addition to bringing one closer to nature — can also be extremely useful for practicing mindfulness in today’s technology-and-information overloaded world. The benefits are tangible: people who practice Shinrin-yoku experience reduced blood pressure and stress, as well as improved mood, sleep and focus. (via Westchester Magazine)
Massachusetts to Possibly Face Stricter Restrictions on Distracted Driving
Massachusetts may soon fall in line with its neighbor to the north when it comes to tighter distracted driving laws. Saying 2010’s law banning texting while driving has not gone far enough when it comes to preventing damage caused by vehicle operators on their cellphones, safety advocates are pushing a law with features similar to New Hampshire’s current, stricter distracted driving regulations. Disallowed under the proposed new rules: holding a cellphone to make a call, take a picture or access one’s social media accounts while driving — with an exception for emergency situations. The bill is unanimously supported by the state’s Transportation Committee. (via The Herald News)
Forget Atkins or South Beach: Try the Norwegian Diet
The United Nations Development Program’s Human Development Index has taken inventory and declared the world’s healthiest people to be Norwegians. So what exactly are these folks eating that’s put them atop the list? Well, here are just a few components worth noting:
– Breakfast is much lighter than what we consider a traditional American breakfast; the Norwegians largely stick to bread, cheese, jam and butter — with the occasional smoked salmon or pickled herring thrown in for good measure. You won’t find any bacon or Bearnaise sauce near their breakfast plates, suffice it to say.
– Norwegians have a seafood-heavy culture due to their country’s large amount of coast, and they’ve got many ways of devouring their fish, from curing to drying to eating it fresh.
– The cloudberry is a delightful fruit eaten with whipped cream or turned into delectable jam, and it seems like heading out to pick these treats in the wild is something of a Norwegian tradition. (via HuffPost)
LOCAL HEALTH HIGHLIGHTS
The Amesbury Chamber of Commerce is kicking off its Weekends of Wellness (to be held the first three Saturdays in May) with a Health Fair & Farmers Market at the Amesbury City Hall parking lot from noon to 4 p.m. Over 30 local businesses and organizations will be participating, from yoga studios to purveyors of healthy eats. Amesbury, Mass. | AmesburyChamber.com
Nancy’s Mother’s Day 5K for Opioid Awareness will kick off at the Elks Lodge in Chelmsford at 10 a.m. The run raises money to help fund education programs for local kids about the dangers of opioids and other substances. Chelmsford, Mass. | NancysRun.com
Dermatologists David Gruber and Christine Kannler will hold free skin cancer screenings at Holy Family Hospital in Methuen from 3 to 5 p.m. Appointments are required, so call (978) 687-0156 ext. 2101 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule yours today. Methuen, Mass. | HolyFamily-Hospital.org