STAY WELL & SPARKLE: Emancipate Your Mind

Dr. Sam Christian
Dr. Sam Christian

“Doc, sorry I didn’t take the medicine you prescribed,” admitted my patient, this prominent professional. “I’m taking my little bush, you know…”

That’s when it really hit me – the scope of the problem!If this most learned of men could say that…

Dominica is quaint mix of advanced technology and backward traditions. As the FIRST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD to operate a fully digital national telephone system, it is not uncommon for citizens to have two quality smartphones, one for each network. Yet it is rare to find diabetics owninga much cheaper glucometer. (And when they do, many do not invest in strips for actual testing). Instead, the norm is checking their blood sugars once a month or so at the health center. Little wonder that diabetes ravages Dominica to the extent of having one of the highest amputation rates among countries not afflicted by warfare

Consider this. Digitalis is a leading drug for treatment of heart failure and irregular heart rhythm. It is high on the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines. For centuries Europeans knew that the Foxglove plant containedsomething ‘good for’ the heart and dropsy. However, it took Englishman Dr. William Withering to publish in 1785, “An Account of the Foxglove and some of its Medical Uses.” History documents that he presented clinical trials and notes on digitalis’s effects and toxicity.

We hold sacred the belief that nature is endowed with untold cures for humanity’s ailments. Research funded by the National Cancer Institutes isolated a substance, Taxol, from the bark of the Pacific yew tree. It found to quite effective in the treatment of breast and ovarian cancers. Researchers come in and out of Dominica, testing our flora and fauna. Do we even know their findings? Where can one go to review the accumulated research by our own scientists on the benefits, dosages and toxic effects of our bush?

Time and again, folklore trumps medical advice. Nursing mothers of newborns refrain from eating anything yellow because ‘they say’ it will worsen their baby’s jaundice. Despite instructions from efficient community health nurses, they shelter their newborns fromjaundice-fighting sunlight,fearful that they might get sunburnt or darker.

Sufferers of high blood pressure switch to bush when their prescriptions run out – even when obtained free from the clinic. All they know is the some particular bush, like Vehven, ‘is good for’ blood pressure. But do they follow up by monitoring their blood pressure? Oftentimes, their next encounter with the health care system is when they feel dizzy with headaches and just not feeling well – or worse, with the onset of kidney failure, stroke or heart attack symptoms.

August Monday has devolved into just another time for picnics and revelry. Far from the minds of many is that it commemorates emancipation in the British West Indies, the Abolition Act of 1833. (It came into effect on August 1, 1834).Interestingly enough, France initially abolished slavery in 1794, Napoleon re-imposed it in 1802 and finally abolished it 1848. But this was not before Haiti smashed slave-addicted French domination in 1804 to become only the second republic in the western hemisphere. Actually, the first republic, the United States, turned out to last cacarat with President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation in 1863.To be fair, honourable mention globally goes to the Islamic Republic Mauritania,which officially outlawed slavery in 1981! Yet we know that different kinds of smaller scale slavery flourish in nations great and small today.

History teaches us that this unsavoury aspect culture of tends to have an oppressive grip on the minds of citizens. Even after liberation through relentless implementation of scientific method and force of logic, mental slavery can still be re-imposed. Digitalis and Taxol remind us that our herbs likely contain a treasure trove of treatments. It’s not a choice between white man’s ‘chemical’ medicine and our ‘natural’ bush. It is about discipline to focus on what works and what’s safe. In health and in society, as Brother Bob challenged us:

Emancipate yourself from mental slavery,

None but ourselves can free our mind


Dr. Christian is a syndicated columnist on health and related development issues. He can be reached at

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  1. Gary
    August 3, 2016

    Doc, when you say quote, “It is about discipline to focus on what works and what’s safe. In health and in society” Doc be honest, why make such statement, when this not what the medical Institution professes to do. The medical institution is one of the most corrupt institution on this planet.

    • Gray, you are so stupid, you talk nonsense, believing you are smart to a point where you do not even know when you are making a complete fool of yourself!

      Where are you from boy?

      • Why is it that you cannot contend, against a person\’s idea, without your high and mighty rude insult–you keep calling all sorts of deplorable names which belong to you.

        There is a lot of truth in what Gary said. The medical profession is not being honest with those they serve, If they did so, their business would not accelerate–that is the fear they dread everyday.

        And even if we, the patient would try to maintain discipline, why would they allow us to do so, once again every patient who has a mind disciplined to boost their health, is one more lost for the medical profession.

        My dad was not sick to the extent of visiting a doctor, for his whole Life of 82 years old. The first he felt sick enough for the diagnosis of a medical profession, they told him had cancer–so what did that do for him?

        At his age they put the thought of dying into his mind; he passed away less than 4 months later–why so soon after the diagnosis?

      • “There is a lot of truth in what Gary said?”

        Elizabeth, what truth has Gary spoken, is Gary a medical doctor by profession? You do not even know who that creep is!

        Here is the foolishness that Gary wrote that you condoned: “The medical institution is one of the most corrupt institution on the planet.”

        How can an idiot make a statement like that; and you are condoning that rubbish by saying he speaks the truth! Had it not been for some medical institutions in Canada, you Elizabeth would not be alive today; if you remained alive, your existence would be worst, no detail is need here, but you know what I am implying. My personal existence would be different.

        I am quite certain Gary nor you have never taken a single class in health science; I have: and almost graduate medical school. What is the definition of medical institution Elizabeth? I would define it as a place where medical science of medicine, and the treatment of illness, and injuries are taught.

        As a result…

      • Continue Elizabeth:

        As a result of such institutions, more than half the worlds population are alive. Recently I had to have cataracts removed from both my eye, had it not been for the teachings of such medical institutions, which gave the doctors the knowledge to remove the lines, and replace them with artificial implants, I might become blind in less than a year.

        More than twenty years ago one of my sons got shot-up in a drive by shooting, the doctors had to remove all of his intestines, and remove fragments of bullets which shattered inside of him: had it not been for the teachings of some medical institution, my son would have died!

        So, I do not understand why I should not call Gary an idiot, when he clearly does not know the meaning of the words he wrote. Elizabeth, the reason why I can call you and people like Gary derogatory manes, is all due to the rubbish you and people like Gary write, making such an outrageous statement is stupid, actually stupid, and shows his…

      • Finally:

        My son would have died!

        So, I do not understand why I should not call Gary an idiot, when he clearly does not know the meaning of the words he wrote. Elizabeth, the reason why I can call you and people like Gary derogatory manes, is all due to the rubbish you and people like Gary write, making such an outrageous statement is stupid, actually stupid, and shows his lack of elementary knowledge, you are in the same category like him!

        For Gary to say the medical institution is corrupt, is an insult to every person who has a practicing medical degree, and those who been there, know how difficult it to earn a medical degree!

      • “knowledge to remove the lines, and replace them with artificial implants, I might become blind in less than a year”

        Something is spelt very wrong here: It should be “Lens;” and not lines!

  2. August 2, 2016

    Dominica has its share of natural medicines found in its forests and fields. The knowledge of these remedies has been handed down from grandparents. Happy are those who know their value.

    On the other hand you have the benefit of modern pharmacology. Many prefer this path to healing and health because the man made medicines often work faster. Yet others prefer the old remedies because they know they worked for the family for generations.

    BIG PHARMACY is often perceived to be working hand in glove with the medical profession to “sell” pills. Drug companies have been known to take an old affliction that has been around for centuries and never taken too seriously and give it a scientific name so they can produce a prescription medicine to sell for it. The drug companies send their sales reps around to introduce the new medication to the doctors to get them prescribing it.

    Maybe it should not be “either or”. Perhaps it should be which ever you find works best for you.

    • August 2, 2016

      Personally I would use a natural remedy first if it was recommended by somebody who had used it successfully if It was available.

      Some natural remedies can be combined with a prescription medication but not all. Some people assume if it is “natural” it is harmless. This is NOT always the case. There are “natural” remedies that can cause a big problem if they are taken WITH a prescription drug OR even an over-the-counter remedy. The problem is not enough studies have been done yet with “natural” medicines to know which ones may not be safe if combined with man made products. It is best to decide between one treatment or the other.

      Sincerely, Rev. Donald Hill. Evangelist.

      Another problem with “natural” remedies is you do not always know the quality and strength of the substance unless you are picking your own and know the source and product. On the other hand there are knowledgeable and well qualified people with selling natural remedie

      • August 2, 2016

        Sorry :oops:

        This last paragraph after I signed off was not intended. I realized it was not appropriate and thought I had deleted it.

        Please excuse.

        Sincerely, Rev. Don …

      • Mr. Hill I have to disagree with you once again: Whereas there are lots of plants in Dominica, which some believe possess some form of medicinal benfits, I wish to inform you that is a myth; it is something mythical dating back to the days of slavery, and the mentality of those literates who were enslaved; they brought their mythical customs with them out of Africa, and handed it down to generations.

        Because it is handed down from one generation to another dose not make it true or reality. I challenge any Dominican to produce one single plant found in Dominica which has ever cure any disease; I will pay anyone who can present such medicinal plant by name.

        I am not disputing there may be some plant; however; it is not yet scientifically identified. How can one convinced another that simply boiling some bush of a plant and drink the water will cure a disease. Mr. Hill; the Obeah-man (the self profess voodoo) men and women in Dominica has used leafs of plants to fool people some of…

      • How can one convinced another that simply boiling some bush of a plant and drink the water will cure a disease. Mr. Hill; the Obeah-man (the self profess voodoo) men and women in Dominica has used leafs of plants to fool people some of the whom die while drinking the boiled bush water!

      • @Rev. Donald Hill, D.D. August 2, 2016

        It is amazing,, I had agreed with both you comments, but I could not see the strength of the one in the 2nd one until I read that you wanted removed. \”Where 2 or 3 are gathered I\’m in my name, I am in their midst\”, says Christ Jesus Can you see this working in you and me?

        Well I can!

  3. THC
    August 2, 2016

    Hello Doc. I am asking again…what is your stance/opinion, professionally and or personally about cannabis as medicine. It’s a bush.. :mrgreen: :mrgreen:

  4. antonio guzman
    August 2, 2016

    Cuban Medical Services respects indigenous medicine. It does not advocate exclusive use but rather elevates local science so that liberated people can compete with international pharmaceutical powers. I understand the doctor to say that pride in bush tea is not enough in this complex global environment.

  5. Coocoosan
    August 2, 2016

    We must study our bush. What is the right dose? Does it interact with other medicines you taking? Can it make matters worse?
    How long should I take it.

    I like what Dr. Sam said about this is not white man’s medicine. Scientists from all over the world collaborate to advance cures for all mankind. Some are created in the lab, but lots more are waiting to be discovered in nature. May Dominica make its contribution to the advance of science and global health.

  6. Chabay Wed
    August 1, 2016

    Dominicans more obsessed about colour that we used to before. So wha’ happen, everybody doh know babies clearer when they born. So what all that about them getting darker.

    Its good to see our ‘dark’ queen Tasia winning wherever she goes! Come on peeps we have to lose that backward way of thinking about skin colour…

  7. Apply Bush Tea to the Scientific Method
    August 1, 2016

    Excellent article Dr Sam! Our bush tea and other beneficial plants must be examined and made to serve us via application of the scientific method. Where we avoid using that method we will continue to fall short. Why go to SMA, DGS or State College – or overseas for that matter to Cuba, MIT or Yale – and then remain ignorant in evaluating our bush medicine. We know bush medicine can work but it must be subjected to the rigors of science to be made most effective. The anti science bias must perish for us to truly liberate ourselves from mental slavery. Jaco, Balla and Congoree who fought for our freedom would be honored that we use our education more productively on Emancipation Day 2016 instead of staying stuck in the sewo mentality which is enslaving us now.

    • “Where we avoid using that method we will continue to fall short. ”

      Sometimes, we can use words, which sounds good; however, makes no sense to who understands the meaning of the terms used. Rather than you using the therm “scientific method” I would have suggest using the term R&D “research and development.”

      When you find something significant then you can begin to talk about the scientific method you used:

      Now you have to state your hypothesis, the method used, your theory, and conclusion. Hence when we are talking about a scientific, we are implying; the principles, and procedures for a systematic pursuit of knowledge involving the recognition, and formulation of a particular problem.

      We become involved in the collection of data through observation, and experiment, and the formulation, and testing of the hypotheses. In reality before one can think of any scientific method, they must first develop a hypotheses. Anybody involved in Health Science, or any other…

      • Now you have to state your hypothesis, the method used, your theory, and conclusion. Hence when we are talking about a scientific,

        Since this is educational, let me be accurate without leaving a word: Hence that should read:

        “Hence when we are talking about a scientific method!” Again I say anybody involved into health science, or any other science should know without an hypothesis there can be no scientific method!

  8. Doc, the backwardness, and backward traditions in our country supercedes the simplest of advanced technology! When you have so called educated people in Dominica dictating to the less educated “let’s beat this thing” in reference to hyperglycemia, and hypoglycemia (diabetes mellitus), and prefer to drink bush water given to them by some illiterate idiot; than treat the disease with proven medication what can be expected?

    Dominicans rather lose their life than to do what the doctors advised them to do, they have no need for modern treatment, because the bush water will cure every medical problem they have. All they are drinking are the secreted chlorophyll of plants; which has very little significant’s except in most case causes a simple BM.

    When I was a kid Lemon, and Lime bush tea was the order of the day, Cinnamon (spice) and ginger were popular also; the effects the lime and lemon bush had was caused weakness. Ginger however; helps, if one suffers from poor circulation…

    • August 2, 2016

      Mr. Telemaque:

      Thank you for explaining the scientific method of developing a working hypothesis and the other information.

      This is why some drugs take so long to be approved for marketing. When a drug is created in the USA we
      seem to wait for ever for it to hit the market in Canada. People are suffering. Some will go across the border to receive a treatment and their Canadian insurance won’t pay for it in the States.

      I don’t blame anybody for using a botanic treatment or whatever is available to cut through the red tape if it is safe and it works.

      Sincerely, Rev. Donald Hill. Evangelist.

      Sincerely, Rev. Donald Hill. Evangelist.

  9. Dr Clayton Shillingford
    August 1, 2016

    An interesting subject..Some years ago Clemson University through the Archbold Tropical Research & Education Consortium (ATREC) at Springfield Estate and the Dominica Academy of Arts & Sciences (DAAS) planned to cooperate in a major phytomedicine project to analyse and perform the scientific studies necessary to find out what may be useful in traditional herbal medicine in the bushes used in Dominica.. We did not get the support and cooperation of certain Government agencies including the Environmental Coordinating Unit and the project fell apart.. US AID funds were obtained to kick start the project,,workshops and meetings were held with various scientists in the field plus participants from US Aid, Costa Rica and Brazil where this kind or research was ongoing.. I was involved and was part of the discussions including a visit to Clemson campus to help draft the agreement for benefit sharing..I have felt for some time that there is a kind of cultural anti science attitude

  10. Henry Luke
    August 1, 2016

    I see no immediate change for the ensuing future, given the existing climate of high handed nepotism, and psychological mind control that so glaringly dominates the political, social, and religious landscape of the nation.
    The vast majority of Dominicans are reluctant to educate themselves in matters pertaining to social and personal development, because they believe that should they do so, it will require sacrifices, risks and radical changes that they are unwilling to undertake for fear that in so doing, it will alter their accustomed way of life, and probably move another person ahead; so everyone is content to remain in the shackles of ignorance, as long as every one is in the same condition. For that reason, the politicians of the day are capitalizing big time on the apathy and ignorance of the people, even to the point of exploiting them.

  11. Henry Luke
    August 1, 2016

    Doctor Christian, Sir, the Dominican mind is still woefully saddled to it’s colonial and pre-colonial past; not only in matters related to health care, but in every segment of social life. Even the so called “educated” among Dominicans, seem powerless to shake off the demons of ignorance and apathy that so brutally and cruelly cripples its citizens. That gruesome reality is most visibly evident in the politics of the country. The people of Dominica, to a large degree, simply refuse to grasp the fact that any duly elected government is bound to serve the collective interests of the populace, whether one voted for that government or not. Given that mental deficit, Dominicans continue to subject themselves to a mendicant and beggarly existence, contenting themselves to tow party lines in order to eke out a measly existence of dependency of handouts, that they can readily provide for themselves if they dared hold those elected officials to accountability. Regrettably, I see no change…

  12. free
    August 1, 2016

    True….thanks doc

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