Take care, mind the cup!

As summer sets in at full swing, remember the quote “take care, mind the cup!” when it comes to alcohol… this blogger’s alternative suggestion to the British Tube slogan “take care, mind the gap.”

Enjoying the summer sun, swimming, and enjoying cool refreshing drinks are “musts” for most of us who have been working hard and mostly indoors this past year. Some may not drink alcohol, due to taste or not being legal drinking age (in U.S. 21 years, Europe 18 years) and indeed this is a controversial issue. Others may enjoy a wine cooler, a cold beer, tropical pina coladas or other similar cocktails,  among other great alcoholic beverages. My all time fave summer drink is the “Cape Codder” as these ‘light’ drinks when taken in moderation is fine, however many people may take it too far and in essence lose control of their head!

IMG_9647Take a hard look at yourself and your friends and family…some may have a healthy relationship with alcohol and know your limit, while others wind up putting themselves and others in uncomfortable situations or even in danger.

  • We never drink and drive, or drink and dive! Though the group M.A.D.D. has done quite a bit in raising awareness in the U.S. there need to be more community interventions and sharing of stories much early on about “responsible drinking”.
  • We avoid binge drinking as we know it contributes to the above, as well as other intentional or unintentional injury, long-term drinking damages our liver, increases (for women) chances of some cancers (see CDC Fact Sheet on binge drinking)
  • Recall the song by UB40 “Red Red Wine” … which certainly highlights the ‘fun’ aspects, but if you need to drink to ‘forget’ on a continual basis, perhaps some counseling and support would help in the short and long term, there are plenty of free or reduced counseling services around.
    • drink plenty of water! My favorite grandmother wisdom quote was “when the month doesn’t have an ‘r’ the wine takes water”  (“μήνας που δεν έχει ‘ρ’ πέρνει το κρασί νερό”) think about it — May, June, July, August are months we get dehydrated so drinking more than 10 glasses of water a day should be the usual and every time you drink alcohol accompany with water (and something to eat). Have healthy habits throughout the year!
  • Aware of genetics and potential addiction — regardless of the family history (see NIAAA info) it is cultural messages that mainly contribute to reinforcing alcohol use and even abuse of it! If every street corner has a bar or pub, if College is about “partying” drunk and alcohol advertising  shows it as seductive can we avoid falling into traps? Yet in cultures where you drink slowly while you enjoy food and company there are healthier “relationships” with alcohol!
  • A friend of mine is so sensitive to alcohol because indeed they recognize the ugly face of alcoholism which affects both their work and family life, so that everyone he/she comes into contact with needs to be careful not to “trigger” their symptoms by being offered cool drinks and even those delicious for most of us Grand Marnier chocolates.

This summer along with all the recommendations don’t forget your sunscreen, staying cool, wearing a hat and sticking in the shade. There are some great community ideas out there, so be safe, keep your head on straight and enjoy summer. Cheers!

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April showers bring May flowers and..?

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We all know the quote “April showers bring May flowers” and indeed we are happy when all the rain subsides into beautiful rainbows and the blossoms of Spring.  I particularly liked this woman’s creation of Alice in Wonderland in MyFairyGardens.com. Alongside all the birds chirping their mating songs, our little insect friends (lady bugs, bees, ants) and perhaps “foes” (mosquitoes etc.) many people suffer from seasonal allergies that have some symptoms similar to colds do you know the difference?

How many are health literate about how insects pollinate and know that many are useful and needed for a healthy ecosystem? As a matter of fact big companies like Bayer-Monsanto may be taking insect reppellent “killer” chemicals too far ….some accusations of altering the genetic mix of mosquito and thus creating dangerous illness like the Zika virus.  I’ve been thinking of all those years of preparing for summer nights with harsh mosquito repellents only to find that there are more natural ways to help us and our children — as a matter of fact do people know we can easily plant both lavender and citronella plants to both attract bees and to repel unwelcome mosquitoes?

Many of us are educated about allergies but do we know to consult with professionals who can help us determine what we suffer from most and how over years this may change? Understanding how our immune system works and the basics of allergies like hay fever which may “look like a cold” is important health information, as also understanding and recognizing potential allergens (common food allergens are peanuts or shellfish, many people are allergic to bee stings), accessing necessary servies.  The last part is critical as we can potentially have life threatening reactions, some may need to always carry with them an Epi-pen or syrups/medicine like anti-histamines. Terms that enrich our fundamental literacy such as ‘allergen’ ‘intolerance’ or ‘sensitivity’ can help us better communicate with our healthcare providers or find relevant information on the internet, there is so much for us to know…. Mayo Clinic has a good basic description of the difference between a food allergy vs. food intolerance and generally good reputable sites are ones to look up in enhancing our own health literacy.

Come into May with a good healthy Spring attitude… you owe it to yourelf, your family, community to:

  • learn more about how to attract good insects and repel those not-so-friendly or good for our health ones
  • understand allergies (seasonal, food) and potential allergens to avoid
  • advocate for healthier ecosystems and responsible corporate practices

Spring, Fasting & left-over health messages

Lent, Spring, and The “ides of March”?!

This year the tradition of Lent has started for many traditional Christians around the globe and every 4 years the Eastern and Western Calendars “meet” so this year Lent has started together (https://www.timeanddate.com/calendar/roman-calendar.html) Carnival marks the last time of “letting loose” with food, drink, dress/costumes and for many a continuing of winter-Spring traditions extending back to the ancient times; whether you are  celebrating “Clean Monday” (Καθαρή Δευτέρα) with kite-flying and a vegetable and fish “diet” or preparing for a 40-day “fast” we focus on getting rid of our negative “habits” temporarily (leaning away from “temptation”)  and perhaps reflecting on being better people as well as preparing for Spring! And since we’re thinking of those left-overs last month was also Dental Care Awareness for kids  month, maybe it’s the chocolate binge and from Valentine’s Day or thinking of those marshmallow sugarcoated “peeps” for Easter …who doesn’t love Easter candy?! Whatever one does reminding ourselves to visit the dentist at least 1-2 times a year is vitally important and brushing teeth, flossing, sugarless gum after meals also helps! Ironically even the more health-literate Greece, due to the economic crisis not only has the dental profession been affected negatively among other health ‘tragedies’  described in an article in the reputable medical journal The Lancet appropriately called “Omens of a Health Tragedy” by Kentikelenis et al. (2011 article).  Indeed, children in Greece now have some of the worst teeth in all of Europe — The latest sign of Greece’s decay: Children’s teeth (identified Reuters article) since not going to the dentist often,   more than just ‘a pain’ in one’s month as teeth indeed affect and even reflect a person’s overall health.

In Spring, Pagan and Neo-Christian traditions come to light…

  • Persephone comes up from Hades after she was lured to the underworld by a pomegranate and her mother Artemis (Demeter) decides she will allow the bloom of Spring and summer hearth before Persephone goes down again into Fall and Winter scarcities.
  • We await for the Groundhog to see his shadow
  • The bracelet of Spring “Martis” (Ο Μάρτης) — Greece and the  general Balkans one will see the unisex wearing tradition of a red and white bracelet supposedly to prevent a sunburn, and we are called to  hang the bracelet on a fruit tree to “grow” the end of the month…remember some superstitious  stuff is ok but don’t obsess…
  • The famous reference about “The Ides of March” which refers to the full moon which corresponds to the 13th of March, May, July, October.  However most of us identify this with March 15th (starting in 44 B.C.) when the Roman ruler Julius Caesar was killed specifically due to his dictatorship rule many of us recall his supposed famous last line at his assassination ‘et tu, Brute’ (Latin for “and you, Brutus” or “even you, Brutus”… said at the time to his ‘friend’)

This special season think of the various messages that can help you integrate actions for better health:

  1. If you feel like a breath of fresh air away from the troubles of everyday life, plus a bit of exercise running in the wind, ‘go fly a kite’ (not just for controlling your anger any more!)
  2. Eat less, remember your 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a dayUnknown-1 for better health. Fast wisely.
  3. Love that candy, but remember to brush your teeth and seek dental care!
  4. Allergies may be around the corner in the new bloom, be aware of side effects and take precaution (not just the ‘ides of March’).
  5. The kids may be waiting anxiously for the Easter bunny, but personally love this quote by a famous late comedian-actor, Robin Williams (1951-2014):

Have a heart & keep your heart healthy… lessons from Snoopy

February is indeed the month of “love” but it is also heart healthy month.  There are many myths and truths about love, heart health, and emotional intelligence… and yes, you guessed it this all ties in with how health literate we are as individuals and as populations. This month I designate Snoopy as my ‘poster child’.

Why? Snoopy is the “man”…  though some of you may like Snoop Dogg (the U.S. rapper and actor) who likely was inspired by the coolest dog, Snoopy, the Charles Schulz Peanut’s character. Though all Peanuts characters that have much to teach us about self-esteem, growing up, friendship, dealing with challenges, there is something to be said about a non-verbal yet very expressive beagle. Some people believe that Snoopy expresses the character of the Beagle breeds the best.

Snoopy knows when to be cool, when to use charm, to express anger at the right times for the right reasons, is cultured as he appreciates art and music, cries and laughs with passion. They have even created Snoopy emoticons calling Snoopy the dog with a thousand faces! He is not a mere bystander when his friend Charlie Brown and gang may experience problems, fear, interpersonal problems, bullying (some countries celebrate February 28th & 29th as Anti-Bullying days though May 4th is the Official U.N. Nations designated date). Snoopy comes to the rescue to teach and handle the situation with the utmost ‘cool’ — one of the best is “He’s a Bully” as how Joe wheels and deals in the bullycharliebrownpower-control arena. The key again in bullying is ‘repeated’ manipulation, teasing, physical altercation (pushing/shoving, hitting, etc.) and yes it occurs from school all through our grown-up lives (in relationships, at work, in communities). Learning about healthy relationships and the power-and-control wheel via The Duluth Model which includes the “equality wheel” — something for all of us to reflect on occasion.

When Snoopy is ‘down’ he also seeks inspiration, friendship, and support from his sidekick Woodstock (named after the 1969 music festival in New York state). Hence why we also need social support and this has been proven time and time again in many psychosocial studies as the one thing that helps us through illness and other life difficulties. As a matter of fact people indeed can die of a ‘broken heart’ (some call it a broken heart syndrome) due to loss of a loved one, lack of social support, or feeling unloved. The American Heart Association gives us the technical names for this syndrome as being stress-induced cardiomyopathy or takotsubo cardiomyopathy — but indeed the reputable organization indicates it is real as it can lead to muscle failure, and more importantly it is treatable.

Getting appropriate blood tests to recognize what we may need to change, dieting, exercising, relaxing, and receiving or looking for support (personal or professional) especially for dealing with our stress or losses, are indeed necessary and can help prevent heart attacks and even death. Most people would benefit from getting in touch with this heart energy, psychotherapy, meditation, prayer, music therapy.  Indeed one of the best experiences both I and others have had in opening this energy, was participating in Insight Seminars. They call their first seminar “awakening the heart” and indeed through facilitation by an experienced trainer and helpful exercises, participants go through a grueling self-reflection… as Michael Jackson said in his song “The Man in the Mirror” — one seeks to change their ways for the better, as an individual and as a community. At no greater time do we need to listen to Michael’s message! Lastly, Whitney Houston reminded us to learn to love ourselves… love yourself but not so much narcissism that you don’t care about others — Justin Bieber’s last hit song hits the spot “love yourself.”

Be healthy, be smart, have a heart…. and stay cool. Thanks Snoopy!

Beyond A New Year’s Resolution

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A new year, a new you. We often hear or see this in self-improvement classes, magazines, blogs. Should the emphasis be on “new” or “renew”?

A New Years Resolution is very much a western idea, however the concept of “reflection” transcends many religious and spiritual traditions. What to reflect on for the last year? Here are some basic questions:

  • Did I learn from my successes and mistakes?
  • Have I changed at least one thing about my consumption habits that will lead to a better health outcome? (Diet, exercise, use of substances, financial spending)
  • Did and do I ask for help when I need it? (Social support, counseling, etc.)
  • Am I learning more about myself and others? Accepting those things I cannot change….
  • Do I better understand love, friendship, family, and society?
  • Do I and have I given thanks for what I have?
  • Did I visualize at least one goal that I managed to succeed at?

The above help one gain “insight.” I make it a habit each year to reflect on my journal about what I accomplished in the previous year and what I hope to accomplish or strive for in the next. There are some goals like “exercise more” that can seem unattainable in the strict sense (e.g. join a gym, run a marathon) either for physical or monetary reasons or life circumstances. However, I focus on what I’ve done and congratulate myself for my persistence and alternative course of action. It is not about a “new” approach as working toward “renew” of your outlook. Even Forbes Magazine had a set of New Year’s Resolutions and they said focus more on the ‘we’ and less on the ‘me’… that is a first!

Examining patterns of behaviors will help you recognize them faster. We often think that we will remember everything but our memory deludes us as we know a lot about “false memories.” It is most useful to write things down as your pattern may be more obvious towards that “aha!” moment.

Financial health — do you continuously spend more than you earn? We’re not saying starve here, or not “treat” yourself to something nice like a good bottle of wine, a fancy dinner, a new shirt or dress. BUT, do you really need to buy caviar and champagne, or the most expensive shoes for that night out? The basic rules most financially responsible families pass on to their children are:

Physical health – Can you modify some things? Taking the bus and walking longer distances some days it will help you get more in shape and notice things you would otherwise miss as a driver rushing to and from places. One night I walked 2 miles in the cold from the metro/subway to my house in the middle of the night….crisp January nights can offer one the most amazing ‘star’ features, you just need to be aware of your surroundings and any stray dogs.

Relationship health — Do your relationships fulfill most of your needs? This includes friendships as well as romantic relationships (are these ‘needs’ realistic…. not narcissistic?). The key here is, do these people enhance you overall? are these people  well-intended or do they drain you? (if they are toxic to your health think about setting some limits) Are you able to forgive and put your ego aside and apologize when it is needed? People come into your life to offer something, teach you something, share something and  the Eurythmics song “Sweet Dreams” says it best — some of them want to use you, some of them want to get used by you, some of them want to abuse you, some of them want to be abused… keep your head up!

There are many articles about healthy relationships which includes supporting each other, open or improving communication, reducing our expectations (too many romance novels or unrealistic movie experiences of ‘romance’ or ‘love’ may add to unrealistic expectations — do you really think you will fall in love with someone you meet at a bar? rarely happens…), keeping our bodies safe (no abuse/violence – check out the Duluth Model “Power and Equality Wheels”, preventing STDs/STIs/HIV by using condoms every time you have sex, getting annual check-ups like pap smears). Long-term support and commitment may be better for our health — marriage may not be such a ‘bad’ thing! Are you a commitment phobic? seems to be a trend according to experts, reinforced by our fast-paced societies.  Many people afraid to even take one basic step into the sea of a more fulfilling ‘relationship’ often let their lives pass them by… they are so afraid of being ‘hurt’ again, they simply shut down and close off any chances of love.

  • A very useful book about this was written by a Rabbi,  “Why Can’t I Fall in Love? A Twelve-Step Program” to get you to think about your patterns — do you often pick the ‘wrong’ people, do you sabotage your relationships, do you think everyone is not perfect or you’re too picky? have you closed yourself off to love?
  • A great movie (the book is better) on the reality of our self, potential limitations, and sometimes luck in finding love is “Eat, Pray, Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert. The emphasis for me on mindfulness, and especially allowing yourself indulgences like food without guilt, dressing for yourself and not others, are very important in a society obsessed with perfection… and no, you don’t need to travel to Indonesia, India, or hike the Himalayan mountains to find peace. Then again the experience of seeing truth ‘in front of us’ sounds a bit like Paulo Coelho’s book The Alchemist.

Spiritual health — Do you feel you have a place in the world?  Do you feel you have a healthy relationship with God? (even agnostics or atheists in times of trouble may question if there is something ‘more’, and we know from research that those with a spiritual foundation fare better long-term in terms of their health outcomes).  The turning point for me was when I met a whole bunch of cosmologists and physicists who despite the science they studied, they understand that there is something greater, that we are all interconnected, we simply need to ‘notice’ more and work together.  For counselors and for self-improvement I recommend Scott Peck and Thomas Moore books.  My favorites are: “The Road Less Traveled” by Psychiatrist Scott Peck, M.D. and “Care of the Soul” by a former monk turned psychologist, Thomas Moore.

“Disappointments in love, even betrayals and losses, serve the soul at the very moment they seem in life to be tragedies. The soul is partly in time and partly in eternity. We might remember the part that resides in eternity when we feel despair over the part that is in life.” ― Thomas Moore, Care of the Soul: A Guide for Cultivating Depth and Sacredness in Everyday Life

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The “Gift” of Health Literacy & Happy Holidays!

This holiday season take a moment to think of the most important gift for yourself, your family, your community. The gift of health literacy … to better health! Why? We know that those with more health literacy (HL) have better personal health habits, overall healthcare costs are reduced by way of less emergency room use; healthier people don’t use expensive services as much as those with more serious diseases or who are more prone to accidents largely due to lack of self-awareness and self-care. High HL people are likely to be more involved in their community as volunteers, join activities related to  healthier habits, advocate for themselves and others on health issues. Some countries do better than others when HL was measured nationally in eight EU countries, check out the HLS-EU video. In truth, we have a lot to learn from each other. How? Here are some general HL thoughts for the holidays:

  • Recycle more to reduce waste and landfill overuse. Good news for Greece — Greeks are recycling at over 50% daily!
  • Reduce vandalism and encourage waste clean-up — be responsible! You can throw away your own trash when in a public space (not for the street-cleaners, your mom, or waitstaff person), clean-up beaches, be mindful of the excessive vandalistic and narcissistic graffiti like “tagging.” Only tasteful and culturally mindful graffiti art makes for positive change like the “Owl of Athens.”  Vandalistic graffiti particularly on historical buildings and monuments doesn’t beautify, neither does trash dumped on sidewalks, coffee cups left everywhere by careless passers by or visitors. This all creates problems for countries who are already tight for funding, and tourists don’t particularly like to visit “ugly cities” and if you don’t believe it, check out the post on Athens vandalistic graffiti
  • Follow the speed limit & be the designated driver to prevent road accidents leading to injuries or even death (WHO documents how reducing speed can decrease injury). Companies like Coca-Cola have taken this on as a corporate reminder calling these drivers who will not drink and take you home safely as “the heroes of the Christmas party” suggesting free soft-drinks as rewards to the designated driver.
  • Share stories and good health habits with children and teens while learning from the community elders (see elder life stories impact on next generation health professionals as another benefit of this inter-generation communication)
  • Write and advocate for companies to take on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) as these efforts are even more important in times of crisis.
  • Reduce those holiday blues (see Mayo Clinic’s tips) as the holidays can be a “mixed bag” for many of us, as social and family gatherings that can trigger our over-eating, drinking and generally the not-so-good for us behaviors. Some people even savor spending time alone on Christmas (possible cultural differences?)
  • Hug and spend time with others and pets/animals today… social support and the comfort of touch does wonders for your heart and health
  • Building better health for you and others can be easy and fun!

Five health-building tips for you to start today:

1) Build mindfulness skills to help you “read” your body better as part of your self-awareness learning among other things to better manage your emotions-thoughts, eating, breathing, stress levels, and generally more aware of “others” around us. There are many sites and research related to mindfulness, including these eight mindfulness exercises one can easily do on a daily basis. Who doesn’t want to better monitor their “bad” eating habits, slow down, keep chronic stress at bay, and relate better to others?

2) Consider partaking in health “days” or themed months! For example September 29th is World Heart Day to increase awareness of heart disease and stroke, November was Diabetes Awareness month, December 1st was HIV/AIDS Awareness World AIDS day, Anti-Bullying awareness days or weeks are celebrated throughout the year in many western countries as European nations work to establish the Europe-wide Campaign for Anti-Bullying upcoming on March 6th (the European Anti-Bullying Network)  (the International Day of Non-Violence is celebrated in October), or World Oral Health Day (March 20th) since many people don’t visit the dentist due to financial difficulties.  Look around and see what you can do to showcase and educate!

3) Be a model for young children and teens!  There are so many agencies and non-profits to work with throughout the year… not just the holidays.

  • Giving in-kind donations such as non-perishable food, clothes, toys in good condition for children, school supplies, not just around the more traditional holidays of Christmas but cultural holidays like  Easter 🐣 where people can donate baskets of goodies and candles (in Eastern Orthodox traditions these beautiful “lambades” λαμπάδες are offered by godparents to their godchildren).
  • Being part of a child’s “wish” through organizations like Make-a-Wish foundation, as even helping with the seemingly tedious administrative stuff is critical since low-staffed organizations may not have time or resources to do all of this!
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Hellenic American College students (Athens) taking part in volunteerism activities 2016

Organized groups like Boys and Girl Scouts model helping and leading behaviors from a young age and this activity can lead to well-adjusted teens and adults (the Greek Boy Scouts are one of the oldest existing scout groups) — one article lists the top 10 health benefits of joining the Boy or Girl Scouts. Personally, love those girl scout cookies!  Schools and institutions where children, teens, young and older people organize to donate goods, or partake in food-pantries and soup kitchens through organizations like Caritas, teach language skills to poor and refugees, in turn offer important life lessons of empathy as well as develop organizational skills. Many schools, NGOs and for-profit organizations turn entire communities on to better habits like “walking for health” or “cleaning up the environment” throughout the year (e.g. clean up waste in April & May, check out Greece – Let’s Do It — close to 3 million in several countries were mobilized!).

4) More active time, consider this:

  • walk around to “window shop”
  • park further away when you’re at the mall
  • go to farmers markets (λαϊκή) for your holiday fruit & veggies
  • donate time in community soup kitchens
  • gather food items and pharmaceuticals for social clinics
  • make goodies to sell for holiday bazaars, the homeless, etc.
  • spend less time on-line and finally catch up with those friends in person; spending less time on-line and more for other important life tasks (think about decreasing gaming and excessive need for social media like Facebook)
  • pick up better skills like public speaking and leadership, join Toastmasters! Learning through practice and sharing can be beneficial and fun. The very skills you need for gaining self-esteem, being more confident when speaking and leading, can improve and even help you change your career!doxie_xmastree2016

5) Review your own “health chart” — annual health check-ups that need to be made?  December is a good time to reflect on the past year and what we may want to add to those New Years resolutions!

Enjoy the holiday cheer, focus on positive change and be more mindful of your health and community wellness for the new year!

The language of medicinal plants from the ancient world through modern times

Dr. Alain Touwaide in the beginning of this month mesmerized his audience presenting the “Hyppocrates’ Legacy: Greek Medicine in the Mediterranean and Beyond” showcasing his 40+ years of research experience as a classicist and scholar of the Byzantine world, taking us on a “medicinal plant journey” from Ancient Greece (Hellas), the Mediterranean and Middle East, through the Byzantine Empire and Middle Ages,the west, and tying in our modern times. A speaker of 12 languages, university lecturer and researcher, and Scientific Director of the Institute for the Preservation of Medical Traditions; Touwaide, with the support of Emanuela Appetiti (cultural anthropologist, Touwaide’s wife and research partner) gave his audience a true “intercultural” lesson of sorts.  He helped us travel back to the days of Pedanius Dioscorides (Πεδάνιος Διοσκουρίδης) of Anazarbus (the then ancient Hellenic world, now modern Turkey) through Byzantine and modern times… Medicinal plants (e.g. Δρακόντιον) from archaeological representation, art, to actual plant.

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Johnson papyrus fragment of an illustrated herb

How fascinating to learn about the circulation of information via a papyrus and how this may have had effect on translation, since this medium was often recycled — the ancients and those through the middle ages printed on top of other manuscripts in order for this information to eventually reach the ‘commoners.’ We wonder, what has been erased at the base!??

Furthermore, the Greek concept of “ιατρό σόφια” or “γιατροσόφια” (meaning wisdom of medicine passed on from your grandmother) may indeed be one of those very useful things to more carefully look into –an oral and written tradition carried through the ages to our modern days. Indeed, we see that most of the world still uses traditional plants as therapies — these “traditional”,”alternative” or “complementary” medicines (see World Health Organization for the differentiating definitions), may be plants or herbs we use in our everyday cooking like basil and garlic, or for stress and pain reduction like lavender and peppermint. As a matter of fact there are several webpages dedicated to grandma’s medicinal knowledge or “γιατροσόφια” like this one and one interesting one that is tied to the “Agion Oros” (Mount Athos holy mountain, Northern Greece).

Since Greece is among the top three biodiversities in the world, could this not be cultivated more systematically in turn to produce and retain knowledge, create more jobs, and even tourism by rebuilding some of those ancient sites for consulting on medical care the revitalizing of the Ἀσκληπιεῖον – Asklepieion as a way to help the country look to something more positive in the midst of the ongoing crisis for the last almost ten years? Rumor has it that the Greek WWF may be thinking of more serious plant biodiversity proposals in the near future, we hope so!  The first ‘hospital’ was created by the “Asclepiads” inspired through Hippocrates’ original work (we all recall the Hyppocratic Oath), these ancient physicians  followed the cult of Asclepius and the temple of healing. The most well-known asklepieia in Greece today are the Asclepieion in Kos & the Asklepieion of Epidaurus — more that existed in the ancient Hellenic world, some are found in modern-day Turkey.  As an aside, it seems that there is a catalogue of physician’s “oaths” affecting the code of ethics that doctors still use today (anyone want to do a linguistical comparative study in context of the various historical times?).

Dr. Touwaide referred to terms like “diffusion of pharmacotherapies” or reconstructing the “life of the book” (pressed plants in books, etc.), and how the knowledge of a book was transmitted to common people — diffusion through translation (Arabic science is rooted in Greek science) as he showed us remnants from Arabic Baghdad of the 9th century….even in arabic one can clearly see mention of certain terms within the texts and even the image of Asclepius shown in a more culturally-specific and acceptable form that would be more geared for the middle east arabic-speaking world. Indeed we share a common language and interest, can this not overcome any modern-day barriers?

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Modern symbol in U.S. Medicine, the caduceus

The Asclepius staff is pictured in the U.S. as Herme’s “Caduceus” a universal images used for modern day medicine but there is so much more to those snakes than even we know (healing snakebites, etc.). It turns out that the original staff by Asclepius had one snake and nothing to do with ‘wings’…. this was exclusive to the messenger god Hermes, so another case of mistaken ancient-to-modern identity!

Thanks Alain…just in time for winter and thinking of prevention and healing of our common colds the flu, health problems I’m sure we all experience and likely natural cures that stand the test of time…