THE FOUR PILLARS OF WELLNESS
"There are four basic concepts that underpin and support real health.
I call them the Four Pillars of Wellness." Dr. Tony Vendryes
Click on a pillar to learn more...
Doctors describe real depression (clinical depression) as a disorder of mood in which ongoing feelings of sadness, loss, anger, or frustration interfere with everyday life for several weeks or more. Depression is a very common disorder that causes much suffering for large numbers of people and their loved ones.
Researchers claim that only a quarter of individuals with clinical depression seek treatment, and that only 10 percent of them receive adequate care. A popular misconception is that depression is an illness that you cannot do anything about except use prescription drugsto balance your brain chemistry.
Though these powerful medicines may be useful and necessary in severely depressed individuals, they are often overprescribed and may create serious side effects including an increased risk of suicide. Research clearly indicates that there are natural, safe tools that can be used to treat clinically depressed individuals, not just people who are feeling a little sad.
Research published in the medical journal Biological
Psychiatry shows that certain nutrients (sadly lacking in our modern diet) may be better at treating depression than just antidepressant drugs. Research also suggests that eating too little fresh foods and consuming too much processed foods containing unhealthy fats and sugars is leading to depression, anxiety, stress related and other mental disorders.
Omega 3 fatty acids
Sixty percent of the dry weight of the brain is fat, including the Essential Fatty Acids (EFA’s) like omega-3 fats. These are good fats,and unfortunately are in short supply in the modern western diet. EFA's are important components of nerve cell membranes and are involved in the electrical and chemical activity in the brain. Lack of these fats can cause the brain to malfunction and promote mental illnesses like depression.
The omega-3 fats are found in fish oils, other marine lipids and to a lesser extent in flax and some other seeds. Your grandmother was right when she told you that fish is brain food. Major medical institutions around the world are now using high doses of omega-3 fats to treat depression and other mental illnesses. Even if you are taking antidepressant drugs, fish oils make these drugs more effective and may even replace them. When used to treat depression, the daily dose of omega 3 fatty acids should be much higher than usually suggested. In addition the omega 3 fats offer many, many other health benefits and in my opinion, everyone not just the depressed should take these supplements regularly.
The B-complex vitamins
Research shows that low levels of essential B vitamins like B1, B3, B6, B9 and B12may contribute to poor mood and feelings related to anxietyand depression. Supplementing your diet with the B vitamins can have a direct effect on important neurotransmitters in the brain, such as serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine. Evidence also suggests that B vitamins are important factors that help balance and neutralise chemicals that are toxic to the brain and have been linked to depression.
Vitamin B3, niacin plays an important role in the fatty acid metabolism of brain cells and is particularly useful in some mental disorders like depression.The body needs higher amounts of these B vitamins to allow your nervous system to handle stressful situations effectively so the greater your stress, the more you need.
EXERCISE - A natural antidepressant drug
In many ways the brain has its own pharmacy, producing its own natural drugs in the right dosage at the right time. Exercise stimulates the brain to produce more of its own relaxing and antidepressant substances called endorphins.
In a study, which involved eighty adults aged 20 to 45 years who were diagnosed with mild to moderate depression, researchers evaluated exercise alone to treat the condition. Here is what they found:
After 12 weeks depressive symptoms were cut almost in half in those individuals who participated in 30-minute aerobic exercise sessions, three to five times a week.
Those who exercised with low-intensity for three to five days a week showed a 30 percent reduction in symptoms.
Participants who did stretching and flexibility exercises for even 15 to 20 minutes three days a week averaged a 29 percent decline in symptoms of depression.
The results of this study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicinein January 2005, are similar to that of other studies, which involved patients with mild or moderate depression - proving patients need not rely on drugs alone to treat depression.
Sunshine is a potent anti-depressant agent but our modern western lifestyle and medical misinformation has caused many of us to miss out on Dr. Sun. Exposure to sunlight helps to regulate the important mood regulating hormones serotonin and melatonin, while improving blood flow to the brain.
Our bodies produce vitamin D when sunshine strikes our skin. Research shows a link between low levels of vitamin D in the blood and symptoms of depression.
For these reasons I strongly recommend a daily sunbath as an important part of the prevention and treatment of depression. Of course you can combine your sunbath with your exercise and while at it include some deep breathing.
You may email Dr. Vendryes at
Blood sugar or glucose is the main fuel that our cells burn to provide the energy the body needs to function properly. The healthy body keeps the level of glucose in the blood within very narrow limits, as too high or too low a level of blood sugar can severely disturb many important bodily functions. High blood sugar, the outstanding feature of diabetes is given a great deal of attention, but what about abnormally low blood sugar.
Think in the morning. Act in the noon. Eat in the evening. Sleep in the night.
In today’s world an increasing number of our work force work at night. It is estimated that about 20 percent of the working population in the Western world is engaged in shift work. In addition our modern western lifestyle has many people staying up late at night and sleeping more during the day. The natural human sleep-wake cycle is designed for us to be awake during the day and to sleep for approximately eight hours at night.
The human body is indeed amazing. The circulation of blood throughout our structure is vital to life. But the blood in our blood vessels must be thin enough to flow freely but at the same time able to clot if the vessels are damaged. Blood clotting, called coagulation, is then important to prevent excessive bleeding. Specialized blood cells called platelets and certain proteins in the blood called clotting factors work together to stop the bleeding after an injury by forming a clot. Later, after the injury has healed the body naturally dissolves the blood clot.
Fibroids are also called, uterine fibroids, fibroid tumors, growth, fibroma or fibromyoma: just different names for a condition that may affect three out of every four Jamaican women. In most western countries (Jamaica included) the most frequent major surgery performed on women is the hysterectomy (removal of the uterus). The commonest reason for this female surgical castration is uterine fibroids.
Health officials are warning of an epidemic of a condition called dementia that features a pathological decline in mental function. Researchers estimate that the number of people suffering from it will double in the next 20 years.
The word dementia literally means ‘without a mind’ and occurs in several degenerative disorders of the nervous system. Dementia impairs how the brain functions and limits the sufferer’s ability to perform the normal activities of daily life. The infamous Alzheimer's disease (AD) is now the commonest cause of dementia.
The public is often being reminded of the importance of many minerals like calcium, potassium, iron and zinc for good health. Magnesium, another important mineral is however often neglected. Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in the human body and is found mainly in the bones, muscles and nervous system.It features in over 300 different biochemical reactions in our bodies and is critical to health and wellness.
You may not be aware of it, but on average you are constantly losing hair at an estimated rate of 100 hairs per day from the approximately100, 000 strands of hair in your scalp.
At any given time about 90 percent of the hair on your head is actively growing, in a growth phase that lasts as long as six years. The other 10 percent have gone into a resting phase lasting a few months that ends when those hairs are shed. The lost hair is then replaced by new hair growing from the same follicle, thus restarting the growing cycle. On average hair grows about half an inch per month, but with age that rate slows. Factors that interfere with this natural process of hair loss and replacement will produce balding
Treating the Cause of Diabetes or Belling the ‘Diabetes Cat’
As another annual Diabetes Month comes around, more and more people are being diagnosed with the disorder and told that they have an incurable disease for which they must be treated with medication for the rest of their lives. Little or no attention is given to educating the public on the actual cause of the problem and how to prevent and reverse it.
While we continue to focus on diabetes, it is important to remember that one of the ways that diabetes kills is by promoting heart disease. Heart disease is still the number one killer in Jamaica and the world and common and troublesome form of heart disease is known as heart failure or congestive cardiac failure (CCF).
As people get older, one of their greatest fears is the fear of losing their mental functions, a condition referred to as dementia. Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) is the most common cause of dementia in older people, robbing them of their cognitive ability and making it harder for them to think, remember, and reason. It destroys a person's memory, particularly short term memory and the capacity to think clearly, eventually making it difficult for them to perform very basic activities.