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
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:
- 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!)
- Eat less, remember your 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day for better health. Fast wisely.
- Love that candy, but remember to brush your teeth and seek dental care!
- Allergies may be around the corner in the new bloom, be aware of side effects and take precaution (not just the ‘ides of March’).
- 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):
This is a short video about the HLS EU Project that was completed in 2012 involving eight European member countries — simple, great graphics, gets the basic messages out!
Being a member of the HLS-EU team representing Greece was a great learning experience and paved the way for many more great things to come….