How do you know if that expensive supplement is working?

Seen the latest on mushroom extracts or fish collagen? Big promises and big prices and all “scientifically validated.” (1,2) I won’t even mention the diet wars. How do you know if an intervention that is “backed by the latest research” will actually work for you? This is something I have been pondering from a personal and a clinical perspective. Saturated fat may clog your arteries, (3) but dairy may prevent certain cancers in some people. (4) What is going on in science? Is N-of-1 Citizen Science helpful?

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Photo by Andreea Popa on Unsplash

The Science

Science. The word itself evokes promise of the truth, of researchers pursuing effective treatments for the scourges of life. …


What nature provides in our wild world

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Photo by Stefan Rodriguez on Unsplash

Ahh, the promise each night of a refreshing sleep, waking up excited to get out of bed and commence the day. The nightly promise enticing us to our beds, is all too often dashed by the time we drag ourselves from poor sleep in the morning.

A quick search for sleep on Medium.com, brings up innumerable articles with tips and hacks to improve sleep.

What if you are away from home?

Yes, you can and should block out light, but have you actually ever slept successfully with a sleep mask on all night? …


Nootropics, the quest for Mental Power

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Neural Networks — licensed from Shutterstock

What are Nootropics?

Nootropics, the quest for mental power. Think enhanced focus and cognitive power without the jitters. Nootropics are compounds that can augment the positive aspects of cognitive function with negligible side effects (1). In essence, anything that is neuro-enhancing Generally, nootropics are meant to be used in people with no pathology or disease, i.e. healthy people. Of course, that opens the debate around what a healthy person looks like. Even the WHO defines health as more than just the absence of disease.

The use of compounds (natural or otherwise) to enhance brain performance has been around for centuries. Thirty years ago (dare I say it) in my very conservative South African medical school, it was common to use caffeine pills when studying, especially when pulling an all-nighter and then taking a low dose beta-blocker (a drug to regulate blood pressure and heart irregularities) just before an exam to calm nerves while not affecting brain power. …


How patients and doctors can still benefit from automation.

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Image: Shutterstock

I recall being a young General Practitioner, setting out to make my way in the world, before guidelines were a thing. We had not heard of health automation and all medicine was personalized. I had purchased an established, full-time practice in a small provincial town and was juggling my time seeing patients, keeping on top of paper-work and balancing the books. While I was not new to General Practice (you may be relieved to hear), I was new to the business and the government funding processes.

This was before the days of a multitude of self-help guides, beseeching me to look deep and see what it was that I really wanted. I was a doctor and instinctively knew that I wanted to be in General Practice and that came with government funding. In practice, my priority was finding the best option for those who trusted me enough to help guide them through the vagaries of medicine. I quickly picked up on subtle cues — the confidence in the walk from the waiting room, the furrowed lines, the florid skin, the direct gaze, the odor, the interaction between parent and child. These cues helped to guide me towards a plan that supported healing. This is not to say that I did not write the patient’s name on the prescription pad as they were sitting down, a complaint often heard from those disgruntled. I did, and this bought me an extra minute to spend with the patient. On the flip side of this interaction, if I did not prescribe a pharmaceutical, the patient would often feel hard done by, with one or two wanting their money back! …


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Heart-Brain Connection

The connection between Life, the Vagus Nerve and HRV. With apologies to Douglas Adams.

Life. What is the drive that appears to be so pervasive as part of the human condition? Does the Vagus Nerve and Heart Rate Variability (HRV) give us insight into life and the health not just of our bodies but of our minds?

In two to three generations Western societies have gone from having to boil water for a bath and hunt animals for subsistence to having hot water, refrigeration, transport and endless entertainment on tap, not to mention processed food we don’t need to leave home for. Ironically, hunting for food and bathing outside is now a luxury afforded only by the rich. …


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Do we believe what we are told by numerous dietitians, fitness gurus and the food industry, that treats and junk food can be part of a healthy diet?

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines treat as “an act of providing another with free food, drink or entertainment” or “an especially unexpected source of joy, delight or amusement.”

Junk Food

How did treat get to mean a sugary snack in between meals as pacifier, reward, or motivation? Something that we are entitled to at least once daily and if this is not supplied, we are on a diet, craving and resentful? When we inevitably give in to a so-called guilty pleasure, do we actually enjoy it? …


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In writing a review about a Covid-19 cure, I hope to help provide a way out for those that seek it. Out from the false security of handing away our choices to politicians, reductionist experts and retired software engineers, but not into those of the hand-waving “viruses are a solvent” and the “COVID virus does not exist” brigade.

My professional life has been spent helping to empower those that want more. More health, more life, less bullshit. For this, by some colleagues, I have been seen as everything from contrarian, through to fringe and most flattering “that witch doctor.” …

About

Cindy de Villiers

Practicing Functional MD developing a diagnostic and treatment online platform, incorporating wearables and AI. Always questioning.

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