Peripheral Neuropathy Can Be Helped With Supplements!

People with type 2 diabetes and unstable or poor blood sugar control are prone to various levels of nerve damage or neuropathy. How does this show up… usually as numbness, tingling and loss of feeling, particularly in your hands and feet. Sometimes you have no perception of touch or temperature on the soles of your feet, and walking may be an ordeal. Or even continuous pain and aching in your lower legs from which you find it difficult to get relief.

The conventional way of treating the various associated diabetic conditions, including peripheral neuropathy, is with drugs. Sometimes certain drugs actually worsen the diabetic condition leading to more intensive drug therapy. If you have never taken supplements before, the idea of taking them can seem strange to you. You may even equate supplements with medications, but they are not.

Nutritional supplements include vitamins, minerals, herbs, phytonutrients or plant nutrients, or substances found in the metabolic pathways of your body. As you already know, vitamins and minerals are substances your body requires to survive.

Herbs are not required by the body but they have been used for thousands of years to correct disturbances in the body, even serious disease. Phytonutrients are some of the ingredients found in herbs and plants that work to reverse certain health conditions.

Peripheral neuropathy is a diabetic complication when your hands and feet become very difficult to feel. They go numb. When this happens, you know the nerves are not being fed properly. They need the extra nutrients so they can work as they were meant to. That’s when supplements can make a big difference.

Five supplements that can help you overcome peripheral neuropathy are:

1. B vitamins: The B vitamins including biotin, choline, inositol and thiamine all work together to feed and nourish your nerve impulse transmissions.

2. Lecithin: Lecithin is made from soybeans which contains phospholipids. Phospholipids are important in all membrane structure, especially myelin sheath production and nerve protection

3. Alpha-lipoic acid: Alpha-lipoic acid has long been used in Europe for the treatment of diabetic neuropathy. Research indicates this powerful antioxidant blocks the enzyme that causes swelling and protects your nerves.

4. L-Arginine: This amino acid increases circulation and can help in cases where the strength in your muscles has decreased.

5. Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA): Diabetics often have difficulty converting dietary fats to GLA… supplemental GLA has been found to be effective therapy for peripheral neuropathy.

No supplement is going to cure you of peripheral neuropathy altogether, but any relief from the pain and tingling of this common diabetic complication can make a difference. As well as considering taking supplements for your peripheral neuropathy, it is also important to prevent more harm from high blood sugar levels.

6 Reasons for Doctors to Hire Outsourced Receptionists

The internet has made almost everything possible. Outsourcing has seen huge improvements in recent years as the internet continues to expand. Many companies from different industries have sought the assistance of outsourced workers who offer high quality work at an inexpensive price. Today, the most popular type of outsourcing is the hiring of virtual receptionists which are very in demand in almost all industries.

One industry which has started to take advantage of hiring virtual receptionists is the field of medicine. Many hospitals and clinics have come to realize that this is a cost efficient way to interact with patients and clients. For the medical industry, hiring virtual receptionists is an intelligent choice as proven by many small businesses who are currently taking advantage of its many benefits.

But why take the leap to outsource your telephone service? Why take the “risk” of working with a person whom you have no personal access to, when you could just hire an in-house assistant or receptionist? Here is a list of the reasons why for most physicians, hiring an online telephone answering service is well worth any believed risk.

  1. Virtual receptionists take care of tedious and repetitive tasks that are usually handled by secretaries, personal assistants and telephone operators. These tasks include answering inbound calls, forwarding calls, scheduling appointments, taking messages and taking orders, among others.
  2. Virtual receptionists help improve a medical clinic’s responsiveness to its patients. When you outsource receptionists, you can make sure that no call will ever be missed. This is because hosted receptionists and their customer support are available all day, every day. All calls are guaranteed to be answered by live persons – an important factor in making your patients feel attended to and valued.
  3. Virtual receptionists save time. Imagine having to stop in the middle of a medical consultation just to answer the phone. With hosted receptionists, you don’t have to worry about missing that call or having to stop whatever you are doing in order to pick up the line. With online telephone services, you are sure that all calls are answered with promptness and attended to with focus and attention.
  4. Virtual receptionists save space in the office. Imagine your office measures only 500 square feet. If you hire an outsourced telephone answering service, you can say goodbye to additional tables, chairs, telephones, and other office supplies taking up valuable real estate in your clinic. All those supplies a regular receptionist would need in order to work efficiently to complete her 9-to-5 shift are no longer needed.
  5. Virtual receptionists ensure quality all the time. Most hosted receptionists have to undergo extensive training in order to gain all the skills to certify them for the position. They have call quality standards, often involving a review of a significant percentage of their calls. These calls are monitored by quality assurance teams, and satisfy the requirements of the job. These hosted receptionists are also required to provide call reporting at the end of the day, week or month.
  6. Finally and most importantly for any business, virtual receptionists save you money – huge amounts of money – which in the end will most benefit your clinic in the long run. Imagine not having to recompense for your receptionist’s regular day or night job. Imagine not having to pay employee benefits like insurance and social security. Imagine not having to worry about what your receptionist is doing in her downtime.

When determining what receptionist company is right for you, think about your options. Is the company US based? Does the company have 24 hour availability? Can you customize your script and make changes and updates on the fly (and for free)? Would you just do after hours and weekends or 24/7? The best receptionist companies will be able to work with your business and walk you through all your options for making the most of your virtual receptionist.

Kickboxing: A Good Hobby for Your Health

Kickboxing mixes aerobics, martial arts, karate, and boxing to provide a unique sport that improves and maintains several physical characteristics and abilities. Tasks used in kickboxing can include jump roping, kicking, punching, shadowboxing, aerobic maneuvers, and more. It taps in to a lot of physical activity that maintains healthiness of the heart, the mind, and the soul. Kickboxing classes are a great way to get started.

Improving Agility

The art of kickboxing offers the power to maneuver muscles in an efficient manner, improving overall agility and strength. Agility requires isolated movements through your reflexes, strength, coordination, balance, and endurance. It also keeps the ability to draw conclusions efficiently and react fast. This keeps the heart healthy, the muscles strong, the endurance high, and the brain focused. So it basically rolls up many healthy characteristics into one.

Maintaining Heart Health

Because kickboxing requires a lot of strength and endurance, it promotes a healthy heart. Just like running a lap or two requires the heart to be in good shape, the actions that include holding positions, moving muscles articulately, reacting fast with energy, holding your balance, etc. all rely on a good heart. Kickboxing classes use these activities at various levels, depending on the class. Therefore, you could improve overall heart health when performing kickboxing activities.

Maintaining Good Circulation

Good circulation improves Oxygen through the body, which is healthy for your heart and strengthens the vessels that demand the oxygen. This also improves energy levels. Low blood circulation like when you are sick tends to drop the amount of energy you have and can even bring on fatigue. Aside from that, the harder the heart has to work, the more strain it places on the organ so good blood flow keeps the heart in peak condition-or at least as good as it can be. The legs and the feet require a lot of work to receive good blood flow, which is improved through the kickboxing activities. In addition, healthy blood circulation improves cell growth capabilities and overall organ health, as well as healthy skin tone. Lastly, good circulation helps promote healthy brain function.

Strengthening the Muscles

If the muscles in the body do not have much strength, you may feel week and/or soar from exertion. Kickboxing classes improve strength in various muscles throughout the body. As blood flows through the muscle areas, it provides more strength. Kickboxing requires a lot of muscle control, movement, and endurance that helps keep muscle tone and health intact. All of these elements lead to requiring less energy from the muscles for other daily activities and that will keep you from getting so tired.

Helping Control Diabetes

Diabetes is a condition affecting many people around the globe and causes low blood circulation, amongst other things. Kickboxing improves blood circulation, which is necessary to diabetes patients to help them cope with the diagnosis and help to prevent complications.

Coleridge’s Treatment of the Supernatural in the Ancient Mariner

The Ancient Mariner is the story of a real-life sea voyage pervaded by a supernatural atmosphere. There is an eeriness in the hypnotic eyes of the Mariner, the spectral ship with Death and nightmare Life-in Death as its crew dicing on the deck, the winds that sound but never come near, the Polar spirit, the angelic spirits entering the corpses of the mariners and activating them, and the Mariner’s ship sinking mysteriously with a thundering sound coming from under the water. Terror is produced by Coleridge’s ability to provide visual descriptions of striking vividness.

The story with its supernatural trappings is obviously incredible, but within this framework there is the human reality.

“God save thee, ancient mariner

From the fiends that plague you thus”.

Here Coleridge vividly presents the supernatural issues by dwelling upon the hideous contortions on the face of the Mariner. And it is by drawing our attention to the terror-stricken feelings manifested on his face that the poet convinces us of the reality of the experience. We would certainly refuse to accept the supernatural details as real, but there is no mistaking the downright inevitable gush of frightful feelings and sensations evoked by the supernatural powers, as when the Mariner says

“Fear at my heart, as at a cup,

My life blood seemed to sip”.

The feelings evoked are very much real. Coleridge’s treatment of the supernatural is, therefore, psychological.

The Ancient Mariner thus fulfils Coleridge’s part of the joint bargain in Lyrical Ballads – to treat subjects “supernatural or at least romantic”, but to make them credible by truth to human nature and feeling, so as to cause “that willing suspension of disbelief for the moment that constitutes poetic faith”.

The influence of the supernatural has been brought to bear not only on human nature but on phenomenal Nature also. Coleridge makes the natural seem supernatural by ascribing to Nature something of the special power and proficiency of the supernatural. The storm in part V is like a fantastic death’s dance. The tropical sunset comes rushing with a single gigantic stride. Even the ice has got a terrific presence:

“It creaked and growled, and roared and howled,

Like noises in a swound”.

The persistence of natural laws in the midst of the supernatural convulsions helps us to retain our grip over reality. And, of course, the figure of the wedding guest is a permanent link with the world of reality.

A Shot of Espresso Versus a Cup of Coffee – Caffeine Content

A question that is often asked is “does a serving of espresso have more caffeine than a serving of regular coffee?” It is not possible to state exactly what the serving size of coffee is because that varies based on personal choice, type and shape of cup or mug used, among many other factors.

However, it is reasonable to state that the average serving size of a cup of regular coffee is 8 ounces and the average serving of espresso is about 3 ounces. Based on such straightforward comparison, a cup of brewed coffee has more caffeine than espresso. However, this comparison is not exactly accurate because it does not take into consideration the amount of caffeine per ounce served.

From a concentration perspective; that is, in terms of caffeine per ounce served, it turns out that espresso has more caffeine than brewed coffee.

  • Brewed coffee has about 65 to 120 milligrams of caffeine per 8 ounces serving.
  • Dividing 65-120 milligrams by 8 ounces results in about 8.125 to 15 milligrams of caffeine per ounce.
  • Espresso, on the other hand, has about 25 to 50 milligrams of caffeine per 3 ounces serving.
  • Again, dividing 25 to 50 milligrams of caffeine by 3 ounces results in about 8.3 to 16 milligrams of caffeine per ounce.

Therefore, from this concentration perspective, espresso has more caffeine than brewed coffee based on the amount of caffeine per ounce. However, the total number of cups of either brewed coffee or espresso per day is actually what will determine the total amount of caffeine consumed per day.

Ultimately, total volume is what matters in evaluating the amount of caffeine consumed per day. Espresso cups may be smaller in size but it does not take long for a frequent espresso drinker to consume much more caffeine per day than a moderate brewed coffee drinker.

Caffeine is also assimilated more quickly when taken in concentrated dosages, such as an espresso cup.

  • This is why drinking a shot of espresso can give a “jolt” faster than drinking a full 8 ounce cup of brewed coffee. The espresso method of preparation allows the coffee drinker to have fresh coffee “in a hurry” by forcing very hot water under pressure through the finely ground coffee.
  • This method extracts the coffee’s aroma, flavor and body in a way that requires a special blend and a roast level of coffee, called espresso roast, instead of the roast levels used for the “regular” ways of brewing coffee.
  • A great tasting espresso should be sweet, very aromatic and have a flavor similar to freshly ground coffee. The taste should be enjoyable without any additives but, if adding milk, the espresso taste should be bold enough not to “disappear.”
  • Several minutes after consumption, the coffee drinker should still taste the pleasant and aromatic aftertaste on the palate.
  • It is not possible to have a good espresso without a good espresso blend which should feature aromatics, sweetness and smoothness associated with espresso. The espresso blend should be fresh and not roasted too dark to prevent bitter, charcoal taste.

As a recommendation, grind and dose espresso on demand for one shot, dose properly, tamp and brew to enjoy each drop. The water pressure is responsible for the “crema” which is a unique feature of espresso and adds to the unique taste and drinking experience. Preheating the espresso cup with clean hot water prior to filling the cup with the espresso brew is always a good idea. Doing this helps retain the aroma and heat of the freshly prepared espresso. Deciding to drink 1 to 3 or more cups of espresso per day is a coffee drinker’s prerogative. Doing things in moderation is good advice to remember and is the way to control total caffeine consumption.

The best way to ensure preparing a great specialty coffee beverage is to apply exact standards of water quality, brewing temperature, and coffee to water ratio as much as possible.

  • This is true whether the coffee is prepared as an espresso or as brewed coffee. The choice of coffee beans and flavors offer many opportunities for coffee tasting experiences and memorable times with family and friends.
  • Brewing coffee is an art and a science. To coffee lovers, brewing coffee is fun, relaxing and enjoyable. Coffee drinking is both a habit and a ritual. It is a rewarding activity to several personal senses; literally, from the tongue to the nose and to the mind! In just about any language and culture, coffee is a very popular beverage.
  • On a per serving basis, regardless of whether it is espresso or brwed coffee, the average cost of a cup of coffee is more affordable than the cost of drinking an equivalent amount of fresh juice, milk, bottled water, wine, beer, and soft drinks.

In addition, there are many health benefits from drinking coffee. Coffee has two main ways of improving the health of your body: antioxidants and caffeine.

  • Both of these substances have health and anti aging benefits.
  • Antioxidants help your body repair damage to cells caused by free radicals.
  • These free radicals are produced as a by-product of cells through normal daily activities.
  • The health benefits of coffee are many and the research supports the claims.

Obviously, check with your own physician regarding any medical conditions, treatments, diagnostics, pregnancy or special dietary plans for you.

Go ahead and drink coffee, brewed and espresso. They are both great tasting and varying the type of coffee brewed is fun. Enjoy a cup of Panama Boquete specialty coffee!

Exploring the Breath, Range, Character, Scope and Reception of Cyprian Ekwensi’s Writings

Ekwensi one of Africa’s most prolific writers who died late last year and was buried early this year, maintained a vibrant writing activity throughout his life, publishing a collection of short stories, Cash On Delivery, his last work of fiction and completing work on his memoirs, titled, In My Time for several years on to his death. With over twenty novels, collections of stories and short novels to his name, Ekwensi’s thematic preoccupation equally covered the Nigerian Civil War from the perspective of a journalist and life in a pastoral Fulani setting in Northern Nigeria.

Ekwensi’s first published work was the novella, When Love Whispers, published in 1948, ten years before the great African novel, Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, appeared in London. He was inspired by sorrow over his unsuccessful attempt to court a young woman whose father insisted that she makes a marriage of convenience to write it. This short, light romance formed part of what became known as the Onitsha Market school of pulp fiction, and its success inspired Ekwensi to continue in that same mode.

Ekwensi had already distinguished himself by the several short stories he had written for broadcast on radio. These he later put together, within ten days, while on his way to Chelsea School of Pharmacy, London, to realize his first novel, People of the City, which Nigeria’s premier newspaper, The Daily Times, published in installments before it appeared in book form in 1954. but which was not published in the United States until 15 years later. People of the City (1954) was the first West African novel in modern style English to be published in England. It’s publication thus marked an important development in African literature with Ekwensi becoming one of the first African novelists to receive much exposure in the West and eventually the most prolific African novelist.

The fact that Cyprian Ekwensi started his writing career as a pamphleteer is reflected in the episodic nature of People of the City (1954) a collection of stories strung together but reading like a novel, in which he gives a vibrant portrait of the fast-paced life in a West African city, Lagos. People of the City which recounts the coming to political awareness of a young reporter and band leader in an emerging African country is filled with his running commentary on the problems of bribery and corruption and despotism bedeviling such states. In it and several others, Ekwensi explores the lure, thrills and challenges of urban life, and the extreme permissiveness and impersonal relationships permeating the lives of migrants to the city, where close-ties normally fostered by the extended family system of their traditional societies constitute a serious check on the deviant lifestyles that find full expression in the city.

According to, Bernth Lindfors, none of Ekwensi’s numerous works is entirely free from amateurish blots and blunders. Lindfors therefore concludes that he could not call any “the handiwork of a careful, skilled craftsman.” On his portrayal of the moral irresponsibility in city life, Bernth Lindfors, argued that “because his sinful heroines usually come to bad ends, Ekwensi can be viewed as a serious moralist whose novels offer instruction in virtue by displaying the tragic consequences of vice. But it always seems as if he is more interested in the vice than in the virtue and that he aims to titillate as well as teach.” While this view may be contested, it is undeniable that he always strove hard to reach his audience in the most immediate and intimate style. Indeed, it was to maintain this that he clung to those themes that afforded him the mass readership he so much craved

In a 1972 interview by Lewis Nkosi, Ekwensi defined his role as writer thus: “I think I am a writer who regards himself as a writer for the masses. I don’t think of myself as a literary stylist: if my style comes, that is just incidental, but I am more interested in getting at the heart of the truth which the man in the street can recognize than in just spinning words.”

Ernest Emenyonu, a Nigerian critic noted for his sympathy towards Ekwensi, charges that Ekwensi “has never been correctly assessed as a writer.”

Another sympathetic critic,the long-standing American convert to the study of African Literature, Charles Larson, describes him as one of the most prolific African writers of the twentieth century. According to Larson, Ekwensi “is probably the most widely-read novelist in Nigeria–perhaps even in West Africa–by readers whose literary tastes have not been exposed to the more complex writings of Chinua Achebe and other more skilled African novelists.”

Kole Omotoso past President of Nigerian Association of Authors and Drama professor at University of Ibadan confessed a lifelong fascination with him after reading his novelette The Yaba Round about Murder as a child, for, as he confesses, it taught him the importance of space in writing fiction. Omotoso goes on to state that Ekwensi’s major importance in Nigerian writing is because he believed in himself and ‘made us believe in ourselves.’ The pan-Africanist slant of his writings and his publications being mostly in Nigeria were found commendable. When many other African writers were in self-exile, he chose to remain in his native country, rather than live abroad where publishing opportunities are more abundant.

While some scholars discounted Ekwensi’s novels, others valued their social realism. Charles R. Larson put his work in historical perspective: “Local color is their forte, whether it be Ekwensi’s city of chaos, Lagos, or Onitsha … ; the Nigerian reader is placed for the first time in a perspective which has been previously unexplored in African fiction.”

Placing Ekwensi’s work firmly in the popular idiom, Douglas Killam explained their importance: “Popular fiction is always significant as indicating current popular interests and morality. Ekwensi’s work is redeemed (although not saved as art) by his serious concern with the moral issues which inform contemporary Nigerian life. As such they will always be relevant to Nigerian literary history and to Nigerian tradition.”

Ekwensi told stories that, like well-cooked onugbu (bitter leaf) soup, left a pleasant after-meal tang on the palate. Through his works Ekwensi told us that a work of fiction does not deserve that honourable name if it does not at first sight-…-arrest the reader like a cop’s handcuffs….. I read many of Ekwensi’s books, and save for ‘The Drummer Boy’, which was a recommended text when I was in junior secondary school in Plateau State, the others were read because they are what a book-hungry soul needs for sustenance. Who can, having been initiated into the cult of Ekwensi, forget the revenge-driven Mallam Iliya, the sokugo-stricken Mai Sunsaye, the skirt-besotted Amusa Sango, the raunchy belle, Jagua Nana (they don’t create women like that any more, whether in fiction, on the telly, and probably in real life); and the heart-rending Ngozi and heroic Pedro? They are my friends for life.

Ekwensi did much more than create ‘airport thrillers’. He told great stories that live on in the hearts of all who encountered them. ( Henry Chukwuemeka Onyeama a Lagos-based writer and teacher)

An Ibo, like Chinua Achebe, Ekwensi was born in 1921 in Minna, Niger State, in Northern Nigeria, but attended secondary school in a predominantly Yoruba area, Ibadan. He is very familiar with the many major ethnic groups in his country, and thus possesses a knowledge often well exploited in his novels. He went on subsequently to Yaba Higher College in Ibadan and then moved over to Achimota College in Ghana where he studied forestry. For two years he worked as a forestry officer and then taught science for a brief period. He then entered the Lagos School of Pharmacy. He later continued at the University of London (Chelsea School of Pharmacy) during which period he wrote his earliest fiction, his first book-length publication Ikolo the Wrestler and Other Ibo Tale (1947) , published in London. His writings earned him a place in the National Media where he rose to Head of features in the Nigerian Broadcasting Services and ultimately becoming its Director.

Several events in Ekwensi’s childhood contributed later to his writings. Although ethnically an Igbo, he was raised among Hausa playmates and schoolmates and so spoke both tribal languages. He also learned of his heritage through the many Igbo stories and legends that his father told him, which he would later publish in the collection Ikolo the Wrestler and Other Ibo Tales. In 1936 Ekwensi enrolled in the southern Nigerian secondary school known as Government College, Ibadan, where he learned about Yoruba culture as well as excelling in English, math, science, and sports. He read everything he could lay his hands on in the school library, concentrating on H. Rider Haggard, Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, Walter Scott, and Alexandre Dumas. He also wrote articles and stories for numerous school publications, particularly The Viking magazine.

During the later part of his stint as a forest officer Ekwensi started yearning for the city. So beginning in 1947 he taught English, biology, and chemistry at Igbobi College near Lagos. To his classes he read aloud manuscripts of books for children, Drummer Boy, Passport of Mallam Ilia, and Trouble in From Six, and short stories. Finally, after decades of supplementing his writing career by working in broadcasting and doing other public relations work, Ekwensi gave up his day jobs in 1984 to pursue writing full time. He returned to writing adult novels, picking and choosing from his personal “archive” of earlier written manuscripts much of which he revised into the novels Jagua Nana’s Daughter, Motherless Baby, For a Roll of Parchment, and Divided We Stand, which were published in the 1980s. For example, in For a Roll of Parchment he recounted his trip from Nigeria to England, as he had in People of the City. He did, however, update his material to portray post-World War II Nigeria, with its faster paced life.

Sex, violence, intrigue, and mystery in a recognizable contemporary setting most often in the fast-paced melting pot of the city were common diet in Ekwensi’s works especially in Jagua Nana, in which a very worldly and highly attractive forty-five year old Nigerian woman with multiple suitors falls in love with a young teacher, Freddie. She agrees to send him to study law in England on the understanding of their getting married on his return. Around this beautiful and impressive prostitute, Ekwensi sets in motion a whole panoply of vibrant, amoral characters who have drifted from their rural origins to grab the dazzling pleasures of the city.

And the novel itself shows us the seedy underbelly of the big city, Lagos, where Jagua’s favourite haunt, the Tropicana bar, sets the scene for much of the story.

Sometime, back in the 1950s the Onitsha Market ‘literary’ mafia, strarted producing and marketing openly, a semi-nude picture of a buxom Igbo teenage beauty, with the sassy caption, “Beateam mee lee” – I dare you to beat me!

Those were the prudish days of high moral values in Igboland and indeed Nigeria , of Elizabethan fashion with cane-wielding primary school teachers and headmasters. The offending picture sent shockwaves right down the spines of the public who, nonetheless, rushed to buy copies. Men who turned up their noses at the pictures in public, secretly bought, viewed and relished copies. And..school boys did odd jobs for parents, and the money they earned were saved up to the one shilling cost of the picture, which they used to purchase it and then usually tucked it away, in-between books, away from the prying eyes of parents or the class teacher, from where curious peeks of the treasure could be sneeked occasionally, at its owner’s risk, even in the middle of a lesson. Noted for churning out almanacs, with pictures of the famous, unfolding events, folk art, as well as such literature as those of Ogali A. Ogali, author of the legendary “Veronica My Daughter”, the mafia knew where to draw the line. Sex, however, sold any day and age and the mafia knew this. But nobody wanted to be identified with anything even remotely pornographic. “Beateam mee lee” was therefore, at the time, the mother of all daring.

It was against this backdrop that Ekwensi took the Nigerian literary scene by storm with the publication of the raunchy Jagua Nana. Ekwensi’s most widely read novel, Jagua Nana, published in 1961 returned us to the locale of People of the City but with a much more cohesive plot centered on Jagua, a courtesan who had a love for the expensive as reflected in her name itself, which was a corruption of the expensive English automobile, Jaguar. Her life personalizes the conflict between the old traditional and modern urban Africa. Although Ekwensi had earlier shown the direction of his works with the publication, in 1954, of People of the City, it was Jagua (the lead character in this novel) that built the Ekwensi legend and assumed a life all its own, becoming a folk hero of sorts. Jagua dared the reading public. Ekwensi the artist, also had the magic of picking out names of his characters that were instant hits. They stuck like glue in the reader’s memory and helped animate the fictional personality. Bold, defiant, imaginative and rendered with uncommon technical finesse, Jaguar Nana totally established Ekwensi as the ultimate chronicler of Nigerian city life.

Published in 1961, the novel Jagua Nana, tells the story of an aging prostitute named Jagua who tries to provide for herself security in her later life through her relationship with a younger man. Yet while this young man is studying law in England, Jagua involves herself in various activities, some dubious, some not. Jagua Nana, witnessed some improvement in plot quality and control, unlike what obtained in People Of The City, chronicling the adventures of an ageing prostitute in Lagos, in love with her work and the expensive lifestyles, but who ends up in grief and disappointment.

Ekwensi’s attempt to dust her up later and usher her into some form of happiness and fulfillment introduces the quest motif in his work, which manifests itself fully in the sequel, Jagua Nana’s Daughter (1987), where Jagua, after a long search, was able to reconnect with her educated, socially elevated daughter, who had also had her own fair share of loose life. Both daughter and mother were at the same time engrossed in a quest for mutual fulfillment and healing until they met fortuitously. In the end, after she suffers sufficiently, Ekwensi allows her to have happiness.

As was to be in several of his other novels, Ekwensi’s moralizing is evident and reform is possible for some characters. For example, in the later novel Iska Ekwensi portrayed a young Ibo widow, Filia, who moves to Lagos after her husband’s death. There she tries to lead a respectable life. While she tries to get an education and responsible employment, she encounters numerous obstacles, which allow Ekwensi to show readers a wide range of urbanites. Yet this novel, published by a European press, could not compete for popularity with its predecessor, Jagua Nana, which caused controversy for its frank portrayal of sexuality. When an Italian movie company wanted to film Jagua Nana, the Nigerian government prevented this effort fearing negative media portrayals of the country.

Talking about what inspired him to write the work in an interview, Ekwensi said: I was a pharmacy student at the Yaba Higher College those days and I lived in the same compound with a young man who was very romantic. He would never miss his night club for anything. We had a night club then, called Rex Club, run by the late Rewane – the two Rewanes are dead now, by the way and one of them was at Government College, Ibadan while the other one was a politician.

Now, many years later, I was called upon to do a programme for the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) about night life and I found out that I had so much material about this subject that I could really build it into a whole book. That was the inspiration.

Yet another of his novels is Burning Grass (1961) a collection of vignettes giving insight into the life of a pastoral Fulani cattlemen family of Northern Nigeria..The novel and the characters are based actually on a real family with whom Ekwensi himself had previously lived. For after studying forestry at the Yaba Higher College in Lagos during World War II, Ekwensi began a two-year stint as a forestry officer which familiarized him with the forest reserves,from which he was enabled to write such adventure stories in rural settings as Burning Grass..

“In the days in the forest, I was able to reminisce and write. That was when I really began to write for publishing,” he told Nkosi. The several months spent with the nomadic Fulani people, later became the subjects of Burning Grass.where he follows the adventures of Mai Sunsaye, who has Sokugo, a wanderlust, and of his family, who try to rescue him. While seeing his protagonists through varied adventures, Ekwensi portrays the lives of the Fulani cattlemen. This early work, considered one of his more “serious” novels, was published by Heinemann educational publishers and reissued in 1998

Two novellas for children followed in 1960; both The Drummer Boy and The Passport of Mallam Ilia which were exercises in blending traditional themes with undisguised romanticism.

Between 1961 and 1966 Ekwensi published at least one major work every year. The most important of these were the novels, Beautiful Feathers (1963) and Iska (1966), and two collections of short stories, Rainmaker (1965) and Lokotown (1966).

Beautiful Feathers (1963) reflects the nationalist and pan-Africanist consciousness of the pre-independence days of the 1950s and how the young hero’s youthful commitment to his ideal leads to the disintegration of his family, thus underscoring the proverb alluded to in the title: “however famous a man is outside, if he is not respected inside his own home he is like a bird with beautiful feathers, wonderful on the outside but ordinary within.”

From 1967 to 1969, during the Nigerian civil war, when the eastern part of Nigeria attempted to secede, Ekwensi served as a government information officer the experiences from which he used to write the 1976 picaresque novel Survive the Peace. which realistically portrayed the activities of a radio journalist in the wake of the civil war in Biafra.who in his effort to reunite his family, encounters the violence, destruction, refugees, and relief operations that such chaos engenders. Through flashbacks, Ekwensi also depicts the war itself giving a post-mortem on the just-concluded , interrogates the problems of surviving in the so-called peace. It looks for instance at the pathetic fate of James Odugo, the radio journalist who survives the war only to be cut down on the road by marauding former soldiers.

In such early works as the collections Ikolo the Wrestler and Other Ibo Tales, and An African Night’s Entertainment, the novel Burning Grass, and the juvenile works The Leopard’s Claw and Juju Rock, Ekwensi told stories in a rural setting.

Ekwensi continued to publish beyond the 1960s, and among his later works are the novel Divided We Stand (1980) in which he lampooned the Nigerian civil war, the novella Motherless Baby (1980), and The Restless City and Christmas Gold (1975), Behind the Convent Wall (1987), and Gone to Mecca (1991).

Ekwensi also published a number of works for children.such as Ikolo the Wrestler and Other Ibo Tales (1947) and The Leopard’s Claw (1950). In the 1960s, he wrote An African Night’s Entertainment (1962), The Great Elephant-Bird (1965), and Trouble in Form Six (1966). Over time, Ekwensi produced other books, mostly for children, which though they may not have been internationally acclaimed, were nonetheless well known and read all over Nigeria and Africa. They included Rainmaker (1965), Iska (1966), Coal Camp Boy (1971) Samankwe in the strange Forest (1973), Motherless Baby (1980), The Restless City and Christmas Gold (1975), Samankwe and the Highway Robbers (1975), Behind the Convent Wall (1987), Gone to Mecca (1991), Masquerade Time! (1992), and King Forever! (1992). In 2006, he completed work on two other books; “Tortoise and the Brown Monkey”, a short story and “Another Freedom”.

Gratifyingly Ekwensi is still writing, He has published several titles as When Love Whispers, Divided We Stand, Jagua Nana’s Daughter and King for Ever! all related to earlier works.

When Love Whispers like Jagua Nana revolves around a very attractive woman with multiple suitors. But whilst she thinks she has won the love of her life her father expects her to get married to an older man in an arranged marriage.

Divided We Stand (1980) was written in the heat of the Biafra war itself, though published later. It reverses the received wisdom that unity is strength, showing how ethnicity, division, and hatred bring about distrust, displacement, and war itself.

Jagua Nana’s Daughter (1986) revolves around Jagua’s daughter’s traumatic search for her mother leading her to find not only her mother but a partner as well. She is able to get married to a highly placed professional as she, unlike her mother, is a professional as well. She thus gains the security and protection she desires.

King for Ever! (1992) satirises the desire of African leaders to perpetuate themselves in power. Sinanda’s rising to power from humble background does not prevent his vaulting ambition from soaring to the height where he was now aspiring to godhead

In the decades since Ekwensi began writing, the Nigerian readership has changed. Unlike the days of the Onitsha Market fiction, when books were printed inexpensively and sold cheaply to suit popular tastes at the turn of the millennium few publishing companies controlled the choice of books published; book prices made books often go beyond the reach of the masses, restricted mostly to schools and libraries, which cater to nonfiction and instructional materials. With various forms of media increasing in popularity, the incentive to read has fallen. With fewer people reading for pleasure, novels are in little demand. Because of these circumstances, creative writers suffer. Of this downside, Ekwensi told Larson, “Journalists thrive here, but creative writers get diverted and the creativity gets washed out of them if they must take the bread and butter home.”

At a public lecture in 2000, quoted by Kole Ade-Odutola in Africa News, the elderly but still vivacious Ekwensi expressed his desire to “build and nurture young minds in the customs and traditions of their communities” through his writings. He explained, “African writers of the twentieth century inherited the oral literature of our ancestors, and building on that, placed at the centre-stage of their fiction, the values by which we as Africans had lived for centuries. It is those values that make us the Africans that we are–distinguishing between good and evil, justice and injustice, oppression and freedom.” In tune with the times, he had started self-publishing his writings on the Internet. Despite the vagaries of the African publishing world, at age 80 Ekwensi was still pursuing his goal because as he wrote in his essay for The Essential Ekwensi 15 years earlier, “The satisfaction I have gained from writing can never be quantified.”

References

Beier, Ulli ed., Introduction to African Literature (1967);

Breitinger, Eckhard, “Literature for Younger Readers and Education in Multicultural Contexts,” in Language and Literature in Multicultural Contexts, edited by Satendra Nandan, Uinveristy of South Pacific, 1983.

· , Volume 117: Caribbean and Black African Writers, Gale, 1992. Dictionary of Literary Biography

Dathorne, O. R. The Black Mind A History of African Literature. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1974.

Emenyonu, Ernest, Cyprian Ekwensi. Evans Brothers, 1974.

Emenyonu, Ernest, editor. The Essential Ekwensi. Heinemann Educational Books, 1987.

Larson, Charles R., The Emergence of African Fiction. Indiana University Press, 1971

Larson, Charles R. The Ordeal of the African Writer. London: Zed Books, 2001.

Lindfors, Bernth, ‘Nigerian Satirist’ in ALT5

Laurence, . Margaret Long Drums and Cannons: Nigerian Dramatists and Novelists, 1952-1966 (1968).

Mphahlele, Ezekiel

Palmer Eustace. The Growth of the African Novel. Studies in African literature. London: Heinemann, 1979.

How to Get Pregnant With Twins Without Making Use of Fertility Drugs?

Want to know how to get pregnant with twins naturally without having to use fertility drugs? Thanks to advances made in medical science there are a number of natural supplements which can increase the probability of your giving birth to twins. Here are a few tips on how to get pregnant with twins.

• Choose a partner who is a twin. Twins are more likely to have fraternal twins. Hence partnering with a twin can enhance your chances of having a multiple birth. Twin births tend to run higher in certain blood lines than others.

• Women who are a few pounds overweight have greater chance of giving birth to twins. However, it would be unhealthy to put on too much of excess weight. It would suffice if you are just few pounds overweight.

• Include plenty of dairy products in your diet. Dairy has been shown to increase twin conceptions by 7 times the normal rate. The fat content in dairy products is cholesterol which helps in stimulating production of progesterone. This increases hyper-ovulation and also the chances of two eggs begin fertilized at the same time.

• Research studies have shown that women in the age group of mid or late 30s are more likely to conceive twins naturally.

• Add wild yams to your diet. Research has indicated that Cassave, a type of sweet potato or yam is a form of progesterone which is a hormone involved in the female menstrual cycle. The skin of this variety of yam contains a chemical which triggers hyper-ovulation. Other foods which can cause hyper-ovulation include soy isoflavones, whole grains, tofu, walnuts and wheat germ. So, if you are seriously looking out for natural ways on how to get pregnant with twins make sure you include these foods in your diet.

Chronic Renal Failure – Specialized Ayurvedic Treatment

Chronic kidney disease is defined as kidney damage or a decreased kidney glomerular filtration rate of less than 60, for 3 months or more, irrespective of the cause. This results in a progressive decline in kidney function, resulting in accumulation of toxic waste products, excess water and salts, increased blood pressure, anemia and many other complex symptoms. Chronic renal failure is divided into Stages I – V, out of which the first three stages are asymptomatic, and usually discovered incidentally, while doing routine blood tests.

The management of chronic renal failure consists of treatment of the underlying cause if possible, aggressive treatment of high blood pressure and other symptoms, liquid and diet control, cessation of smoking, and finally, with end-stage disease, resorting to dialysis or a kidney transplant.

The Ayurvedic treatment of chronic renal failure is based on three principles: (i) treating the damaged kidneys (ii) treating the body tissues (dhatus) which make up the kidneys and (iii) treating the known cause.

The damage done to the kidneys can be repaired using medicines like Punarnavadi Guggulu, Gokshuradi Guggulu, Gomutra Haritaki, Chandraprabha Vati and Punarnavadi Qadha (decoction). Herbal medicines useful in this condition are: Punarnava (Boerhaavia diffusa), Gokshur (Tribulus terrestris), Haritaki (Terminalia chebula), Neem (Azadirachta indica), Daruharidra (Berberis aristata) and Patol (Tricosanthe dioica).

According to Ayurveda, the kidneys are made up of the “Rakta” and “Meda” dhatus. Treating these two dhatus is also an effective way to treat the kidneys. Medicines used are: Patol, Saariva, Patha (Cissampelos pareira), Musta (Cyperus rotundus), Kutki (Picrorrhiza kurroa), Chirayta (Swertia chirata), Guduchi (Tinospora cordifolia), Chandan (Santalum album) and Shunthi (Zinziber officinalis).

Lastly, the known cause of chronic renal failure is treated using medicines which also act upon the kidneys. Vascular (related to the blood vessels) diseases like renal artery stenosis and inflammation of the artery walls(vasculitis) can be treated using medicines like Arogya Vardhini, Tapyadi Loha, Mahamanjishthadi Qadha, Kamdudha Vati, Manjishtha (Rubia cordifolia), Bhrungraj (Eclipta alba), Saariva, Kutki and Sarpagandha (Rauwolfia serpentina). Primary glomerular diseases like membranous nephropathy and glomerlonephritis can be treated using Punarnava, Gokshur, Saariva and Manjishtha. Secondary glomerular disease resulting from diabetes, systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis etc. can be treated accordingly, using the medicines appropriate for those diseases. Similarly, suitable Ayurvedic medicines can be given for other causes like polycystic kidneys, prostate enlargement and neurogenic bladder.

The advantage of using Ayurvedic medicines in chronic renal failure is that in most patients, the kidney damage can be either partly or fully reversed, the frequency of dialysis can be reduced, and the increased risk of death from cardiovascular diseases can be significantly reduced. Thus, Ayurvedic medicines have the potential for an important therapeutic contribution in all the stages of this condition.

For patients with chronic renal failure intending to take Ayurvedic treatment (or for that matter, any alternative treatment), the following points should be kept in mind: (i) all patients should be under the regular supervision and treatment of a qualified and experienced Urologist (ii) Ayurvedic medicines should be taken in the form of additional treatment, and should not replace other, regular treatment or dialysis and (iii) the attending Urologist should be informed of the decision to start Ayurvedic treatment.

The Side Effects Of Vitamin B12

This article discusses vitamin B12 and most of the reported side effects of taking B12. It also outlines some of the medical conditions that taking B12 may exacerbate.

Background

Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin needed for normal cell activity. It is a part of a group of cobalt containing B complex vitamins, which are also known as cobalamins. Like other B vitamins, vitamin B12is important for metabolism. It also helps in the formation of red blood cells and in maintaining the central nervous system. It is found in most foods which come from animal products including liver, fish, shell fish, meat and dairy products.

Side Effects

The good news is that vitamin B 12 is usually non-toxic, even when taken in large doses. However, people have experienced some adverse effects, even though these side effects are quite rare. Generally, when vitamin B12 supplements are taken orally then there is little chance of side effects occurring. Some people choose to take vitamin B12 administered with an injection. This type of ingestion as been associated with the following side effects:

o mild diarrhoea

o anxiety and panic attacks

o heart palpitations

o insomnia

o breathing problems

o chest pain

o skin rash, hives or itchy swollen skin

Some health professionals believe that patients develop these reactions not because of the B12, but because of the preservatives that are part of the injection formula. Currently, most injections contain preservatives. To be on the safe side, it is probably better to take B12 orally.

Medical Conditions

Other side effects may be experienced by people who have an allergy or a sensitive to cobalamin and cobalt. If this is the case, then it is advisable to avoid vitamin B12 supplementation altogether and instead seek to eat the foods that contain naturally occurring B12. In addition B12 should be avoided by people suffering from Leber’s disease, a hereditary disease in which the optic nerve wastes away. Ingesting vitamin B12 can actually speed up the atrophy of the optic nerve resulting in rapid loss of central vision.

There is also evidence to suggest that patients who have undergone heart surgery and received coronary stents may have an increased risk of the artery narrowing again when they take vitamin B12. A small risk, but one to bear in mind.

On a positive note, pregnant and breastfeeding women can take vitamin B12 quite confidently when it is taken orally in amounts not exceeding the recommended daily allowance (2.6 mcg/day if pregnant and 2.8 mcg/day if breastfeeding)

As can be seen, vitamin B12 is a relatively safe vitamin with very few adverse side effects even when taken in large doses. More problems than not arise from B12 deficiency than they do from ingestion of the vitamin itself.

Chin Implant Styles – Which One is Best For You?

Chin augmentation with the use of synthetic implants is a simple and very effective method to enhance the forward projection of the lower face. Placed through a small incision underneath the chin in a skin crease, the bone of the chin is easily accessed for implant positioning. While this concept for facial enhancement has been used for over 40 years and the operative technique has essentially remained the same, the shapes and sizes of chin implants however have changed dramatically.

Chin implants historically consisted of a central augmentation style which resulted in increased projection of the chin button. This implant style only covered in width the most anterior portion of the chin. While this style is still available today, the explosion of chin implant options takes into account how one may want to change the external appearance of the lower jaw line and its impact on the overlying chin soft tissues as well.

Anatomical chin implants have extended side ‘wings’ from a central button that wrap around the chin better. This prevents a potentially visible and obvious step-off from the implant to the bone and avoids an unnatural chin elongation that doesn’t fit the jawline. There are numerous variations of this anatomical design concept that change the thickness of the implant in different places to help create and improve the external appearance of the chin. These include such styles as a square design for men (who want a more square chin) to pre-jowl styles to help smooth out the indentation of the marionette lines for women. (create a smoother jawline as the chin blends into the more posterior jawline) There are even implants that have a preformed notch in the middle (or one can be cut into it) to help create a central chin dimple if one so desires.

The selection of chin implant style can be determined by a visual or photographic analysis of your chin and some computer imaging done to see what changes you consider helpful to your goals. The size of a chin implant, however, is best done by doing measurements on a good 1:1 photograph or a lateral cephalometric x-ray in a side view. Since the soft tissues of the chin move pretty much 1:1 on what the bone does underneath, one can fairly accurately predict what a certain thickness (size) of an implant will do in profile.

Changing the appearance of one’s chin today has more options than in the past. No longer do you have to just leave it up to the surgeon’s eye to determine what is best for you. As an Indianapolis chin surgeon, I prefer to use a combination of photographs and occasional x-rays to help plan the outcome of chin surgery. While even the best preoperative planning is no guarantee of results, the more thought and input you have from the patient beforehand, the more likely you will be achieve the patient’s goals.

How to Cure Skin Problems

Our skin is known to be the largest organ of our body. It also plays a huge part in keeping us healthy. Our skin serves as our shield from all the dust and dirt coming from the environment. Apart from that, it also guards us from the effects of all the chemicals, change of temperature and microbial attack which might cause damage to our health. Most of all, it is the reason why we manage to have nutrients in our body because it actually prevents its loss. There are countless of reasons why the skin is so important to the human body. That’s why it is just essential for us to take care of it. But sometimes, no matter how good we are in taking care of our skin, there could be factors which could trigger skin infection. When this happens, natural skin care will not be enough. Good thing, skin medicines such as Trofodermin exists in the market to help solve all our problems.

Trofodermin is a skin antibiotic designed to treat skin ailments caused by bad bacteria. It also prevents the infection from getting worse. This skin antibiotic is made up of Neomycin Sulfate and Clostebol Acetate which is also known as a synthetic anabolic androgenic steroid. Trofodermin is an aminoglycoside antibiotic, meaning, it hinders the bacteria to produce proteins which are essential to its growth. Trofodermin has the ability to heal the damages of the infection with its antibacterial and anti inflammatory effect.

This skin antibiotic can resolve several skin problems such as skin cankers and sores, skin ulcers, wounds and even ailments like decubitus. It can also help reduce erosive infections of skin and mucous which includes piogenic infections and herpes. Moreover, Trofodermin is your solution for contaminated wounds, burns and cracks in private areas. Long healing wounds can also be treated by this skin ointment and problems including skin dystrophy and beam dermatitis will surely be minimized.

You may apply the antibiotic on the infected area for one to two times a day. It is best to cover it with sterilized gauze to protect it from other bad bacteria. For better results, it is advisable for you to visit a dermatologist before purchasing the product. Several conditions may affect the number of dosage you have to take and side effects may occur once you took the wrong one.

Our skin, like any other part of our body, is vital to our health and to our whole being. Infections may occur but it does not mean it can’t be stopped because Trofodermin, has the solution in all sorts of skin dilemma.

Wine Food Pairing – What Goes With Turducken?

What, you ask, is a Turducken….and why would I want or need to do Wine Food Pairing with it? The answer to these questions is not for the faint of heart!

About 4 years ago I was watching a Thanksgiving cooking show and perked up my ears when I heard something about stuffing your turkey with a duck and then stuffing the duck with a chicken…..hence Turducken. Holy Cow, my new Thanksgiving tradition was born! I really didn’t get all the particulars, but I knew the internet wouldn’t fail me, and it didn’t…….I found several methods and recipes for putting this mouth watering treat on my table. The main focus for preparing this delight is de-boning everything…. everything, that is, except for the turkey drumsticks which gives you a lovely presentation! Well, I can tell you that I had never done this before…. fortunately life has blessed me with an Austrian man in my life that seems to be able to do almost anything….including de-boning various fowl!

The key to all of the preparation is to start very early in the morning and to begin drinking immediately XanGoSecco’s! This refreshing beverage is champagne with mangosteen juice. YUM! OK, now that you are “fortified” you can begin with all the bone removal mess. In addition, prepare whatever stuffing you choose (and there are many!). We chose bread crumbs, mushrooms, onions, celery with some tasty herbs and then a sprinkling of cooking sherry between the birds. Did I mention that you must continue to sip your XanGoSecco’s lest your courage fail you!

This procedure really does require at least 2 people to stuff, hold and sprinkle. Our best time is 2 hours and 15 minutes, but we are looking to shave 5 minutes off that for next Thanksgiving by opening two bottles of champagne before we begin the prep.

Now that the birds are de-boned, stuffed, sprinkled and sewn together….did I forget to mention the sewing part? You MUST remember to have your turkey needle and string ready to stitch those bad boys up or you will really have a mess! Next you pop the whole thing into a 225 degree oven for about 10 to 12 hours….give or take depending on the weight of the turducken.

While waiting patiently for the “birth” of our meal, friends and neighbors begin to arrive…..Turducken’s serve a lot of people so plan for a full house. My Austrian carved 1″ slices and placed them on the platter…the aroma was mouthwatering and the presentation of the layered, marbled bird was second to none.

We chose a Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon and a Pinot Grigio from Italy to pair with our meal….both were wonderful compliments to the poultry! Once again personal tastes enter in to your choices.

As I always say, Wine Food Pairing is an adventure and a challenge that you need to meet head on…. so, go forth brandishing your carving knife, be brave and tackle a turducken for your next Thanksgiving dinner! CHEERS!

Burning Plastic Causes Cancer, Sexual Orientation Problems, and Respiratory Diseases

The smoke of burning plastic contains toxic particles; these toxic particles can cause cancer when inhaled. When these burnt particles fall back to the ground, they contaminate the soil for many years and may render vegetables and fruit harvested from gardens in these areas unsafe to eat.

Separate plastic from other rubbish that is to be burnt and dispose of safely. Pigs, goats and chickens eating grass or food scraps contaminated with dioxins from the burnt plastic will pass it on to humans when these animals are then eaten.

Open burning of plastic waste is simply dangerous to your health and the health of the environment. Plastic such as PVC (polyvinylchloride) is common in such products as: bottles, jugs, plastic packaging and plastic bags from the supermarket. When these plastics are burnt, carbon monoxide, dioxins and furans are released into the air. Studies have linked dioxins and furans to cancer and respiratory diseases, most especially in children as their respiratory systems may not be fully developed. It also causes birth defects in the respiratory and cardiovascular systems when inhaled by a pregnant mother.

Dioxin is a toxic organic chemical that contains chlorine and is produced when chlorine and hydrocarbons are heated to high temperature.

TO INHALE DIOXIN OR TO BE EXPOSED TO THE FUMES CAN CAUSE DEADLY DISEASES.

These toxic components inhaled with smoke from burning plastic materials can cause hormonal and sex behavioral orientation problems with your newborn child, as a result, the child could begin exhibiting behavior in total contrast to his or her sex – a male acting female or vice versa.

Researchers have established that inhaling burnt plastic materials have altered sexual characters of some birds (from male to female). They have also revealed the same defects can easily occur in human beings. Plastics should never be burnt in the open air, there are recycling options available for disposal of these waste products.

Dioxins and furans can also cause impotence, asthma and a myriad of other allergies in humans. Medical reports show exceptionally low sperm counts in young men in comparison to previous generations. Testicular cancer has increased by 55 % between 1979 and 1991 and fewer boys are being born in areas where burning plastic is practiced. Some girls are achieving puberty earlier than earlier generations, this can also be a result of inhaling dioxin and furans.

DO THE WORLD AND YOURSELF A FAVOUR.

STOP BURNING PLASTIC NOW! If your neighbour is burning plastic, report them to your health department.

Lighting a Fine Craft Trade Show Booth – Options for the Budget-Conscious Artist

Good lighting is a main ingredient of a successful trade-show booth. Just the right lighting system can help an artist create the atmosphere of a fine-craft gallery. This will lure gallery owners off the isles and into your booth – the first step toward making a sale.

Lighting is a relatively expensive investment. So how does the budget-conscious artist find the right solution?

When it comes to choosing a lighting system, artists new to the trade show circuit often become overwhelmed. Prices vary wildly, and each convention center may have its own lighting rules. Lighting technology is changing rapidly, making the choices harder still.

This article details what I learned while tackling the challenge of lighting my 10’X10’ booth at the American Craft Retailers Expo (ACRE), a large wholesale show for American and Canadian craft artists. As I am new to trade shows, this information is meant only as a pointer for artists in the process of choosing lighting, and perhaps also for more seasoned artists looking to update their systems.

In examining many different lighting options, my objective was to illuminate my glass jewelry beautifully but inexpensively. I wanted the lights to be lightweight and modular, to fit in boxes for shipping to the show. I was looking for contemporary styling, in silver or black. And I wanted to have at least one special lighting effect – not too flashy – to give my booth a unique element.

In his CD on booth design, art business consultant Bruce Baker suggests 1,000 watts will light up a 10’X10’ booth very effectively. I decided to stay at or under 500 watts, however, because the ACRE show includes 500 watts with the booth price, and the halogen lighting I ultimately decided upon illuminates my displays very well. Since I bought the lights at a “big-box” store with sites in virtually every city in the U.S., I can add more lights once I’m at the trade show if necessary.

The Battle of the Bulb

Contractors Choice Lighting (www.ccl-light.com) says a light fixture is simply a “bulb holder.” The bulb, therefore, should drive one’s choice of a fixture. This is somewhat true for trade-show lighting, although the fixtures may dictate the types of bulbs, depending on the choices available at the store where one shops for the lights. The CCL website offers a “Bulb Photometrics” page ([http://ccl-light.com/photometrics.html]), whose graphical representation is a refreshing departure from the complex descriptions of lighting options that have proliferated on the web.

Halogen is the bulb of choice for many trade show exhibitors. It offers a crisp, white light. Although people commonly refer to halogen as non-incandescent, it is in fact a kind of incandescent lamp. It generates light by using a thin filament wire made of tungsten, heated to white by passing an electric current through it. According to General Electric, the first halogen lamp was developed in 1959 – not too long ago for many of us!

Halogen bulbs differ significantly from the traditional type of incandescents we grew up with. The halogen bulb’s filament is surrounded by halogen gases (iodine or bromine, specifically). These gases let the filaments operate at higher temperatures. The end result is a higher light output per watt.

The gases also do something rather miraculous: Tungsten tends to evaporate off the filament over time, and the gases actually help re-deposit the tungsten onto the filament. This extends the bulb’s life way beyond that of the traditional incandescent bulb, whose evaporated tungsten clings to the walls of the bulb like a smoky apparition and eventually the uncoated filament snaps. Who hasn’t rattled a burnt-out light bulb and enjoyed the jazzy cymbal sound of the broken filament inside?

In addition to giving off more light than traditional incandescent bulbs, halogen bulbs emit a whiter light that provides better color rendition. “For highlighting and bringing out true colors, use halogen lamps,” suggests USA Light and Electric’s website (www.usalight.com). “Nothing looks better than the drama brought in with halogen lamps.”

Baker also suggests halogen lights – floodlights in particular – for a contemporary look, especially for jewelry and glass. It’s important to consider that other fine craft materials such as ceramics and wood might be better enhanced with halogen spotlights, or even with some of the more traditional incandescent lights that emit a warmer color.

Having decided upon halogen lighting, my next task would be to choose bulbs. The ACRE show takes place at the Las Vegas Convention Center, which has instituted a strict halogen lighting policy. Each light cannot exceed 75 watts, and all halogen bulbs must be factory sealed in glass (not in a removable lens or linear shape).

Thankfully, there is plenty of factory-sealed halogen lighting, in the form of PAR halogen bulbs. PAR is an acronym for “parabolic aluminized reflector.” PAR bulbs have a built-in reflecting surface made of pressed glass. The glass provides both an internal reflector and prisms in the lens for control of the light beam.

PAR bulbs are numbered, as in PAR 16, PAR 20, PAR 56. The PAR number refers to the bulb shape. Bulbs.com has a halogen section of the site where you can quickly compare the various PAR bulbs visually. Within a given category of PAR bulbs there are various wattages, wide and narrow spotlights and floodlights, different base sizes, and even different colors.

Fortunately I was able to skip the process of deciding on a PAR bulb by deciding first where to shop for my lights (more on that below).

Power Issues

When you go to shop for track lights, you’ll notice there’s a choice between 12-volt and 120-volt fixtures. 120 is the standard voltage that comes directly into most homes and offices – and convention centers.

For a lamp using 120 volts, no additional parts are necessary beyond a regular socket. 120-volt fixtures generally are lighter than 12-volt fixtures because they don’t need a transformer. They also cost less and can use halogen or regular incandescent bulbs.

I stopped short of investigating 12-volt fixtures, except to find out that they step down the amount of energy being used to a lower voltage, and thus are more energy efficient. They require a transformer to convert the 120-volt household current to 12 volts, and they may require hardwiring (although one artist I know found a 12-volt fixture with a built-in transformer which she was able to plug into a 120-volt outlet. A 12-volt fixture accommodates very efficient bulbs that offer a variety of wattages and beam spreads, including the 50-watt MR-16, which is popular in galleries.

I decided on 120-volt lighting for the trade show, because I wouldn’t have to worry about transformers and could just plug it in.

Choosing a Store and Track Lighting

I read the ACRE online forum for clues about where to buy lighting. What one artist said struck me as eminently sensible: He buys all his lighting at Home Depot, because if anything goes wrong at the show, he can find a store nearby for replacement parts.

This was something to consider: Tempting as the gorgeous designs might be, special-order lighting of any kind introduces the risk of having a malfunctioning light for the duration of a show.

Another artist on the ACRE online forum said he buys his lights from Lowes. It probably doesn’t matter which big-box store one chooses, as long as there’s one in every city.

Since I was new to trade shows and this was to be my first lighting kit, I resisted choosing from the many good suppliers on the web. I settled on the limited but attractive selection at Lowes. A side benefit of this was that my choices were comfortably narrowed.

Within the category of halogen lighting, you can get either track lights or stem-mounted lights (with arms extending outward). I went with track lights. This was partly because the stem lights I found on the web were relatively expensive and Lowe’s didn’t offer them, and partly because with track lights I could have one cord instead of several hanging down.

The Lowes lighting salesperson was helpful in putting together a full package from the track lighting on display and in stock. I decided on four, two-foot tracks to keep the size of my shipping boxes down. Here’s a rundown of what I bought:

· 4 two-foot track sections, Portfolio brand, black finish, Item #225678. Each section holds 2 lights, for a total of 8. Total: $23.12

· 8 Flared Gimbal Track Lights, Portfolio brand, Item #120673, with a satin chrome finish for a contemporary look. They are easy to attach to the track by following the directions. Total: $80.76

· 8 halogen bulbs, Par 20, 50-watt, for bright, crisp light. I bought several floodlights and a couple of spotlights. The bulbs are very packable, at a little over 3” long and 2.5” in diameter. Total: $60.00

· 2 Miniature Straight Connectors by Portfolio, Item #120716, for joining two of the track sections end to end. The idea is to have only one cord to plug in from a row of four lights. Total: $5.92.

· 2 Cord and Plug Sets, Portfolio brand, Item #120827, to power track from a standard AC wall outlet. I connected these to the end of the two of the track sections by unscrewing the covering on one side of the track. Total: $17.06

· Various Multi-Purpose Ties (cable ties), by Catamount, for attaching tracks to booth pipes. Total: $5.00

· 2 heavy-duty extension cord/power strips – 14-gauge, 15-feet, with three outlets each, Woods brand, from Lowe’s, Item #170224, model 82965. Total: $22.00

Grand total: $213.86

The Gimbal lights I chose only accept a 50-watt, PAR 20 bulb, which made it easy to pick out the bulbs. So in this case, the fixture drove the choice of bulb, not the other way around.

According to the Bulb Photometrics page at Contractors Choice Lighting, a PAR 20, 50-watt halogen flood bulb will emit a beam of light with a 5’4” diameter when it reaches 10 feet away. It offers about 12 foot-candles worth of light at 10 feet away from the bulb (a foot-candle is the level of illumination on a surface one foot away from a standard candle.)

For the sake of comparison, a PAR 30 beam offers a diameter of more than 8’ at 10 feet away, and you still get about 14 foot-candles at that distance. What happens if you notch it up to a 75-watt bulb? You get a lot more foot-candles (38) at 10 feet away. This suggests that larger trade-show booths might want to take advantage of higher PAR and higher watt bulbs.

All together, the track lighting system I chose uses 400 watts of electricity. This left me another 100 watts to add specialty or accent lighting to my booth, while still remaining at the 500-watt limit.

Cords, Plugs and Hanging Lights

The Las Vegas Convention Center has very strict rules for cords, plugs, and hanging lights.

The two-pronged, 18-gauge cords that the manufacturer has attached to your lights are acceptable (leave the UL tags and labels intact). These lighting cords cannot be plugged into the convention center outlet, however. Instead, you must plug them into a three-pronged, heavy duty, 14-gauge extension cord – or a breaker strip with a 14-gauge cord. You can then plug that 14-gauge extension cord into the convention center outlet.

A 14-gauge extension cord is capable of handling 1,825 watts. It’s helpful to read the brief extension-cord sizing and safety information on the web pages of the Underwriters Laboratories (www.ul.com/consumers/cords.html) and the University of Florida Cooperative Extension Service ([http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/FY800]) before purchasing a cord.

Bruce Baker suggests the cord be 20 feet with six outlets, and that it include a cord reel. I couldn’t find this type of cord at Lowe’s, so I decided on two 15-foot, heavy-duty, 14-gauge extension cord/power strips, each offering three outlets. If you have a larger booth, you can find a 25-foot cord with three outlets at Lowe’s.

There are so many different approaches to hanging lights, and so many variables to consider, that it could be a topic for another article. In general, you can hang or clip lights onto a cross bar or onto the “hard walls” of your display if you have them. Depending on the rules of a particular trade show and the size your lighting system, you may be permitted to attach the lights to the booth’s existing pipe and drape.

Since my booth design does not include my own walls, my lights will attach either to the existing pipe or to a cross bar. Cable ties (commonly called “zip ties”) appear to be tool of choice for attaching tracks to the pipes or bars, and even for attaching additional cross bars to existing pipe and drape. One artist I know uses Velcro strips, followed by cable ties to secure the attachments. There are a few entire websites for cable ties. One of them is http://www.cabletiesplus.com .

I purchased Multi-Purpose Ties from Home Depot. They can bundle 4 inches in diameter, withstand temperatures up to 185 degrees Fahrenheit, and hold up to 50 lbs.

Accent Lighting: LEDs

There are many ideas for accent lighting – although a fair treatment of the topic is beyond the scope of this article. Light-emitting diode (LED) lighting is one technology that is experiencing breakthroughs and growing fast. It takes many LEDs to equal the light output of a 50-watt bulb, and LEDs are fairly expensive, so LEDs aren’t ready for prime time when it comes to lighting a whole booth.

There are several close-up applications for LEDs, however, that are worth looking into now. An example is the in-counter light bar sold by MK Digital Direct at http://www.mkdigitaldirect.com (at a whopping $175 per foot). The more affordable MK Sparkle Light Pocket ($30) is a portable device that has extra long-life of over 100,000 continuous hours and promises to give jewelry “maximum sparkle and scintillation.”

The Nexus mini LED light system (www.ccl-light.com), meanwhile, offers a lot of illumination for its size – a puck shape not much bigger than a quarter. The company says it is for direct display lighting of crystal and glass, and it can even be submerged in water. The light is attached to a 12’ cable that ends in a plug, and has “mode switch” with seven different color choices. Unfortunately, white is not one of the color choices, and at $25 it’s a bit expensive. Still, a few of these lights combined with room lighting could draw viewers into your booth and toward your most dramatic displays.

LEDS also include tube lights, flexible lights, linear lights, and bulbs. Superbright LEDs (www.superbrightleds.com/edison.html ) has a collection of 120-volt screw-in LED bulbs for accent and other low-lighting applications, as well as a host of other fascinating products such as “plant up-light fixtures.”

At this writing, the search was still on for accent lighting to give my booth an extra special glow. Stay tuned for a future article on the results.

Online Resources

The following list is not an endorsement, but rather a starting point for research on lighting systems, cable ties, and accent lighting.

http://www.ccl-light.com – inexpensive and many choices, has “Bulb Photometrics” page to help determine how much light and what kind you want from a bulb

http://www.direct-lighting.com – stem-mounted and track lights

http://www.usalight.com – large selection of lighting and bulbs

http://www.bulbs.com – quick visual comparison of PAR bulbs (in halogen section)

http://www.cabletiesplus.com – Cable (zip) ties for securing track lights to pipe

http://www.mkdigitaldirect.com – LED lights for jewelry cases

http://www.american-image.com/products/lights/lights.html – a nice selection and visual layout of stem-mounted and other lighting (but not cheap)

http://www.brightmandesign.com/products/wash-super.html – good technical information and images of lights set-ups for trade shows; several stem-mounted clip-on designs

http://www.superbrightleds.com – LED accent lighting, including screw-in bulbs and light bars

The Fit Girl’s Guide to Birth Control

Women are such amazing creatures that it’s downright mind boggling at times. I know what you’re thinking – you and I are both women, so such self-praise sounds a bit excessive.

But really, think about it for a minute. Our physical makeup is dramatically different from that of our male counterparts. We have to train nearly twice as hard to make any substantial gains in the gym, and we’re genetically preprogrammed to store more fat than men, all because of the differences in our hormonal makeup.

Let’s face it, ladies, our bodies are built for child rearing, not heavy lifting or figure competitions. Regardless of whether those babies are a goal of yours or not, your system will always do its best to ensure a soft & comfortable atmosphere for that baby’s development during the first nine months of its existence.

Nature’s plan.

What’s even more interesting is the fact that if you’re actively working on preventing pregnancy, you’ll likely have an increased hormonal imbalance and even more pronounced effects of the estrogen hormone doing its job.

Not sure what I’m talking about? There is a phrase that will conjure up memories of bloat, fat gain, nausea, spotting or breakthrough bleeding, mood swings, and even severe headaches. It’s a short phrase with a lot of power. Ready?

“The Pill.”

Most of those who’ve tried birth control pills are well aware of their possible side effects. These are to be expected; anytime hormone levels are changed in any way, the body is bound to let you know of the changes.

Birth control pills are comprised of synthetic estrogen and progesterone (or in some cases, just one of those two). Since the menstrual cycle and ovulation are regulated by these hormones, this increase results in a variety of changes within the reproductive system, which results in pregnancy prevention.

Now, as any woman in the fitness industry knows, we try our very best to decrease the female hormones in our bodies. We all know that increased levels of testosterone, along with decreased estrogen hormones, are essential to the sense of well-being and overall health.

It’s testosterone that helps us gain lean mass, reduce fat storage, increase sexual desire, ward off that “I’m PMS’ing-leave-me-alone” mood, keep our skin healthy, and our minds sharp. Excessive levels of its opposing hormone, estrogen, produce the exact opposite effect on our bodies.

Clearly, increasing your very own estrogen levels by going on the pill sounds more than just a little crazy. It is, however, seen as an absolute necessity by most women. Many of us just accept the unfortunate side effects and learn to deal with the consequences of a less than perfect hormonal balance.

After all, what else is there?

That’s the question we’ll answer in this article. I’ve done some extensive research on the topic, including interviewing numerous fitness and figure competitors regarding their personal experiences with birth control pills. Each of these girls has discovered what works for her; whether it’s a lower dose estrogen pill or a viable alternative that does the job while keeping those hormone levels at least somewhat conducive to her hardcore fitness lifestyle and ultra-lean body goals.

The Pill

Types of Birth Control Pills

There are two basic categories: those containing progestin only, and combination pills containing both progestin and estrogen.

Progestin-only pills contain no estrogen. These are sometimes referred to as the “mini-pill,” and are considered ideal for breastfeeding women since the presence of estrogen reduces milk production.

The mini-pill works by thickening the cervical mucus, thereby preventing sperm from entering the uterus. They must be taken at the same time every day.

While these pills don’t contain any estrogen, they’re not considered figure-friendly by any means. You see, the pill’s progesterone component has been shown to increase appetite – which of course makes it very difficult to diet, resulting in weight gain.

Some of the other side effects of the mini-pill include irregular or heavy bleeding, spotting, and severe headaches. Additionally, progestin-only pills have been shown to be slightly less effective than their combination counterparts – so that the chance of becoming a mommy is actually increased when choosing these over estrogen containing birth control pills.

Combination pills are ones containing both estrogen and progestin. This category can be broken down into three different types, which are as follows:

Monophasic pill. This is the original birth control pill. Each pack of these pills consists of 21 active pills containing the same amount of estrogen and progestin in each pill, and 7 placebos, which contain no hormones.

The second type of the combination pill is called multiphasic.Also referred to as biphasic and triphasic, multiphasic oral contraceptives contain varied amounts of hormones and are designed to be taken at specific times over the pill-taking period.

Each of the pills in this pack contains different levels of estrogen and progestin so that the hormones are varied throughout the month. They were developed for the specific purpose of reducing side effects of oral contraceptives. Women taking multiphasic pills report having fewer episodes of breakthrough bleeding and spotting, but as of now, those are the only sides that have been shown reduced.

The last type of the combination pill is the continuous use pill. This is the brand new one of the bunch, being approved in the spring of ’07. The best known brand of the continuous use pill is Lybrel, which also happens to be a multiphasic pill. It comes in a 28-day pack and is meant to be taken without any breaks in between pill packets, which basically means not having a period at all.

Some of the side effects associated with all combination oral contraceptives include most of the ones you’d normally hear about, including nausea, severe headaches, possible vomiting, irregular bleeding, and weight gain resulting from the changes in the body’s hormonal makeup.

Birthcontrol

Birth Control Options for Fit Girls

Now that we’ve gone over the basic differences among the pills, let’s take some time discussing ones that seem to be popular with women who are in the fitness industry.

Those ladies who are on the pill and training hard almost always opt for low dose pills. Low dose birth control pills are mostly monophasic pills that have an estrogen component of less than 35 micrograms. Some examples of this type of pill include LoOvral, Nordette, and Ortho-Cept.

There are also two newer formulas of low dose pills on the market, both of which have become a quick favorite among many figure competitors. Cyclessa is a brand new low dose oral contraceptive that’s also multiphasic. The low estrogen in its varying-hormone package has actually been shown to result in weight loss for many women who begin taking it… and those who didn’t lose any noticeable weight, didn’t gain any fat, according to the studies.

Yasmin is another newer low dose pill with many fit ladies in its fan club. Because of a more natural progestin in its formula, it’s been associated with improved skin texture for those who are naturally oily or acne-prone, an improved sense of well-being, and even weight control help due to reduced water retention.

Ultra low dose pills exist as well, and these are ones that have the lowest amount of estrogen in a birth control pill, which is 20 micrograms. This dose of estrogen is sufficient for contraception, however these pills oftentimes result in more spotting and breakthrough bleeding than pills containing 30-35 micrograms of estrogen, which is why most women who’ve tried them end up opting for the low dose pills instead.

If you’re interested in trying an ultra-low oral contraceptive, two of the most popular ones are Alesse and Mircette, with the prior being a favorite of three figure competitors I’d interviewed.

One other factor that’s interesting when it comes to all oral contraceptives (even low dose ones) is that they’ve been shown to decrease total and free testosterone by almost half, while increasing total cortisol levels. This, of course, is quite a negative effect for all of us trying to build muscle – it’s just bad news from the anabolic perspective.

Tired of taking pills? Read on!

Pill Alternatives

Now if none of the aforementioned sides scare you, and the only thing you dislike about the oral contraceptives is the oral part, there are a couple of alternatives that work in ways very similar to that of the low dose pills, without having to take the actual pill!

These are the NuvaRing and the Patch. Both work by supplying the same amount of hormones as low dose pills, so side effects along with benefits are very similar. Ladies who dislike taking pills may find it easier to go with either of these two, though each of the two has its own inconveniences.

NuvaRing is a small, flexible ring inserted into the vagina once monthly. It’s left in place for three weeks, and then taken out for a week. Once that week’s passed, a new ring is inserted for the following three-week period.

A few of the fitness ladies I spoke with find the NuvaRing to be very practical. One of them mentioned that it’s helped her get rid of the terrible migraine headaches she used to get with the low dose pill while also helping her lose some water weight she’d been carrying.

The Patch operates by delivering the hormones directly into the bloodstream through the skin via a thin patch. It must be replaced once weekly for three weeks straight, taking a break on the fourth week. The Patch may be applied just about anywhere on the body, and needs to stay in place at all times – regardless of the activity (yes, even training, cardio, or bathing).

As you’d suspect, this wasn’t a favorite of any of the girls’ I’d spoken with. Two of them had experimented with it as it seemed like a convenient, easy birth control method; both were quickly disappointed as the Patch began irritating their skin after just a couple of cardio sessions. My guess is it just wasn’t created with fitness-oriented ladies in mind.

The Patch

There’s just one other thing I’d like to mention about the NuvaRing and the Patch. Both have caused quite a bit of controversy since their FDA approval. Over the past several months, there’ve been a number of lawsuits filed against both companies, claiming that the birth control devices are responsible for blood clots, resulting in stroke, heart attacks, and even death.

Neither of the devices has been taken off the market, and both companies are maintaining innocence, stating that their products have proven to be safe in most cases.

My personal advice? Do your own research and be sure that your decision is an informed one.

Non-Hormonal Alternatives

For those of you hoping to stay away from anything that will alter your natural hormone levels, there are alternatives. The majority of fitness and figure girls I’ve spoken with, have opted for hormone-free birth control methods – everything ranging from male and female condoms, diaphragms, cervical caps, and lea’s shields (all of which work by creating a physical block), to longer lasting methods, such as the IUD… to permanent ones, like tubal ligation.

Since the IUD seemed to be the most obvious choice for most of the competing ladies, I’d like to discuss that in depth. An IUD is a tiny, T-shaped device that gets inserted directly into the uterus by your OB/GYN. It’s made of soft plastic and contains either copper or hormones.

The non-hormonal ones are the ones I’d like to focus on, as these are the ones most popular in the fitness world. These are known as the ParaGard Copper T 380A IUD, contain copper, and can be worn for up to 12 years. They are effective as soon as they’re inserted and can be removed at any time.

Mirena IUD

Keep in mind that ovulation still occurs when you use an IUD, so you’ll still have your period. Many women complain of more intense cramps and heavier or irregular periods, but most of the fitness-oriented girls find these sides to be a small price to pay for stable hormone levels and the ability to maintain a higher level of testosterone.

Another detail to keep in mind is the IUD installation process itself. It isn’t a pleasant experience by any means – many of the ladies I spoke with said it was one of the most painful experiences they’d endured. But really, just put things into perspective for a second: the insertion lasts for about five minutes, and you’ll most likely be worry-free for a period of over 10 years!

If you don’t already have kids, the IUD may not be suitable for you. The company states that women who have never been pregnant before have an increased risk of expulsion (expelled by the body, usually within the first year) due to a smaller uterus and difficulty with insertion. Check with your doc and follow his or her recommendations when it comes to your particular case.

I’d also like to note that many women are concerned about the safety of copper IUD’s. This concern is mostly grounded in a few events that took place in the 70’s when the very first IUD to hit the market (known as the Dalkon Shield) had to be recalled after 12 of its 2.8 million users died.

The Dalkon Shield was pulled out of doctor’s offices immediately, and although no other IUD since that period has ever been found unsafe, their reputation remains somewhat tarnished. If you begin to seriously consider this device, be sure to do your research just as you would with anything else – plenty of information is available upon an Internet search.

Summary

And that, ladies, pretty much sums up your birth control options. My only hope is that this article gave you a starting point for your own research and made you a more informed patient, one who’ll enter the OB/GYN’s office armed with knowledge.

Keep in mind that the effects any birth control pill will have on anyone will depend on not only the combination and the dose you’re taking, but also on your individual hormonal makeup and response. Because of this, the final decision is best left to you and a doc you trust.