Sunday, January 23, 2011

“From Hawaii with Love”

His daughter calls him “Aya Kiwawe” which, means “father” in the Indonesian language. He was born in Texas, went to school in Colorado, and then flitted to California before moving across the Pacific to the Big Island of Hawaii.

Scott is his first name and 12 years ago he decided to “go around the world”. The trip took him to Vietnam and then to Thailand. He came south to attend a “Full Moon Party” on Koh Phangan. He didn’t like the experience and gleefully came to Koh Samui where he intended to spend the night. He has been here ever since.

Shortly after coming to Samui he started to experience poor health. He has a background in organic farming, being passionate about growing food that is chemically free and it was then he met another organic farmer. This time one from Chaing Rai in northern Thailand. She is Ms. Ta and she helped him regain his health when everyone was saying he should go to the Dr and take allopathic medication. Instead she nursed him using Thai herbs and raw foods. The healing was slow but successful avoiding the ingestion of the powerful chemicals that serve as western medicine. She fervently believes that “most all diseases and complications in life are coming from unnaturally produced disturbances.”

They rented a peaceful property on the southern tip of the island where they established an organic garden and Scott was able to practice his chosen sport of free diving. In this manner he is able to bring fresh caught fish back to the table for dinner. This he feels is a “natural way to live… and the better it is for our own bodies and the planet.” Sadly, their natural Garden of Eden is about to be destroyed. The landlady has given Scott until the end of January to quit the property because she wants to profit from Samui’s ever expanding housing boom .He is bewildered by this blow and wonders where to go next!

However, before all this tragedy evolved, Ms Ta had long ago decided to go into business for herself. A few years back there used to be a small Sunday Market at the Spa Beach Resort in Lamai. She had a stall there where she sold local produce, especially good quality cold pressed coconut oil. Coconut oil had experienced a bad press for several years because the Soya Growers of America saw tropical oils as competition to soya. Their PR company contended that coconut oil is a saturated fat and therefore potentially dangerous to health. This claim has subsequently been debunked and coconut oil has recently been hailed as a super food with an assortment of health giving properties. Thanks to Ms Ta’s untiring efforts; coconut oil has gained an important place in the economy of the island.

The Spa decided the stall holders were becoming competitors and decided to get rid of the market. Ms Ta soon found a small development of shops that were opening up across the road from the Lamai resort and thus moved her stall to a more permanent home. Scott was able to advise her on the product line, with coconut oil taking pride of place. Ms Ta’s shop opened three and a half years ago and has expanded hugely; now includes high quality slow juicers like the Oscar and many other items including books. The acquisition of a fridge has led to the introduction of organic products and delicious cacao delights.

Their latest venture has been the introduction of low cost take home Detox kits. The packs include all you need to undertake a home Detox program. There is an enema and psyllium and bentonite come in packets so it is easy to make up the Detox drinks. There are also herbal pills to make the process complete. Visitors can easily take them home in their luggage and some people have eschewed the cost of paying for a program at a resort, having completed a Detox on their own. Check out this fascinating Aladdin’s cave of goodies where you’re next in Lamai. You’ll find it right across the road from Spa Samui or see their website

This article by Alister Bredee appeared in "Life" section of The Samui Gazette, vol 2 #1 Jan 21st-February 3rd 2011

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Remedies: Chewing Gum for Heartburn By ANAHAD O'CONNOR

Tony Cenicola/The New York Times What alternative remedies belong in your home medicine cabinet?

More than a third of American adults use some form of complementary or alternative medicine, according to a government report. Natural remedies have an obvious appeal, but how do you know which ones to choose and whether the claims are backed by science? In this occasional series, Anahad O’Connor, the New York Times “Really?” columnist, explores the claims and the science behind alternative remedies that you may want to consider for your family medicine cabinet.

The Remedy: Chewing gum.

The Claim: It relieves heartburn.

The Science: It may be hard for most people to think of chewing gum as a remedy for anything other than a case of bad breath. But several studies in recent years have shown that it can in fact help alleviate the symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease, better known to most people as GERD or heartburn.

Chewing on a piece or two of gum, it seems, helps force fluids back into the stomach and flood the esophagus with alkaline saliva, neutralizing acids that cause the characteristic burning sensations.

One independent study demonstrating this, published in 2005 in The Journal of Dental Research, involved 31 patients who were recruited for testing after they showed up at St. Thomas’ Hospital in London with symptoms of heartburn. The scientists conceded that their hypothesis going into the study “was that chewing gum does not have any effect on the clearance of reflux from the distal esophagus.”

Ultimately, they were surprised. On two separate days, they asked subjects to fast for four hours, then fed them a “refluxogenic” lunch that would give just about anyone heartburn: two bars of full-fat cheddar cheese, green salad with two tablespoons of mayonnaise, 15 large chips and half a pint of full-fat milk. On both days, some of the subjects were then randomly selected to chew sugar-free gum for half an hour after the meal.

After monitoring the subjects for two hours after the meals, they found that acid levels were significantly lower when the participants chewed gum. The study was financed by King’s College London School of Medicine and Dentistry.

Another study, this one in 2001, involved 36 people, some of them with diagnosed cases of GERD and others who were healthy controls. The study found that chewing sugarless gum for an hour after a large breakfast reduced acid reflux in both groups for up to three hours, particularly in the heartburn group. The study was carried out by gastroenterologists at Veterans Affairs hospitals in New Mexico and Illinois, and financed by the American Digestive Health Foundation.

The Risks: Frequently chewing sugary gum may damage tooth enamel and increase cavities. But sugar-free varieties containing xylitol — which helps inhibit tooth-eroding bacteria — can have a protective effect.


Saturday, January 8, 2011

“Life Coaching isn’t Psychotherapy!”

Life coaching is a future oriented process that sets out to correct areas of life that don’t appear to be working. Life coaches come in many guises offering support in myriad avenues ranging from financial coaching to that of relationship even to the more esoteric regions of spiritual coaching.

Denis Casarsa was born and brought up in Switzerland. He grew up in the French speaking city of Lausanne which squats on the shores of Lac Leman. His life might have been very different if he had not had a near fatal motorcycle accident at the age of 19. As a result he lay in a coma for two months and tossed and turned between life and death. Life prevailed, but he emerged suffering severe nerve damage, some of which can be seen today. However, his injuries set him on a path to “look for relief from the relentless pain”, that he was suffering. The doctors prescribed morphine to which he became addicted. He dreaded stopping but he knew he must and he came to realize “that the alternative path” would be his only salvation. Thus he began to work on himself to find relief through psychological release. He explored pain management techniques and went to a Jungian Psychoanalyst. It was here matters began to improve as he realized the teachings of Jung gave him the support he sought. This led him to his work as a health care professional and it was here that he had his first encounter with Coaching.

“Life Coaching”, he repeats “is about change!” “It is a change that has a specific affect on some area of life.” “The idea is to be present with the client in a supportive role. People have problems but what we do in coaching is to find solutions.” “Clients frequently start coaching when they get stuck. The Coach’s job is to help get them unstuck!”

To my mind there has always been a fine line between coaching and therapy. I had dismissed the Coaching phenomenon as an easy route into the therapy business but Denis disagreed vehemently. He insists that coaching is “different from therapy because it’s goal oriented. It’s not about looking into the past, but to how people find their own resources to come to terms with now.” “There are specific coaching techniques that work on balance. We need to get out of the mind and into the senses. It’s quite intuitive!” “Effectively the purpose of coaching is to get you to now! We seem to miss that important notion in Western Society.”

OK, I then asked him what sort of clients were drawn to see him. “Women and also young people; they are more questioning than older types, less likely to put up with things they find difficult to accept and they don’t want to be victims!”

Next I was curious to know how the coaching program was put together. Denis explained that the construction was “a contract. You really need a few meetings to tune into the process. This develops into a working symbiosis and gives everybody the opportunity to clarify exactly what outcomes are truly wanted. The clients then have a picture of who they want to be and a grasp on what is limiting them.” As for the time frame he confesses that he “prefers weekly sessions particularly at the beginning as this makes establishing a working relationship easier. It is necessary to shift from thinking in a logical manner via the conscious mind to a more unconscious process.”

As this concept will be novel to many people who might well eschew it as being too much like psychotherapy, Denis offers a free session so the would be client can really get the feel of how it is to work with a Life Coach. During the session “you have the opportunity to identify the area or areas you want to work on.” And he insists “it is fun, an enjoyable process!”

Denis Casarsa coaches in English and in French. He works face to face as well as by Skype and telephone. Although based in Lamai he is prepared to come to you. So why not take advantage of his generous offer of a free coaching session? You can contact him via his website http//: www.

Alister Bredee is a freelance author living on Koh Samui. He is a health care practitioner (working with the amazing CoRe system), trainer and a partner in The Health Ambit Consultancy. He also works as a Detox Consultant and Locum with extensive experience. He can be contacted via his website: He publishes a regular blog at: You can find him and the Health Ambit Consultancy on Facebook.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Some tips on Olive Oil

From Dr. Mercola

Extra-virgin olive oil is a good monounsaturated fat that is also well-known for its health benefits. It's a staple in healthful diets such as Mediterranean-style diets.

However, it's important to realize it is NOT good for cooking. It should really only be used cold, typically drizzled on salads and other food.

Due to its chemical structure and a large amount of unsaturated fats, cooking makes extra-virgin olive oil very susceptible to oxidative damage. However, during this interview I learned that extra-virgin olive oil has a significant draw-back even when used cold – it's still extremely perishable!

As it turns out, extra-virgin olive oil contains chlorophyll that accelerates decomposition and makes the oil go rancid rather quickly.

In fact, Dr. Moerck actually prefers using almost tasteless, semi-refined olive oil rather than extra-virgin olive oil for this reason.

If you're like most people, you're probably leaving your bottle of olive oil right on the counter, opening and closing it multiple times a week. Remember, any time the oil is exposed to air and/or light, it oxidizes, and as it turns out, the chlorophyll in extra virgin olive oil accelerates the oxidation of the unsaturated fats.

Clearly, consuming spoiled oil (of any kind) will likely do more harm than good.

To protect the oil, Dr. Moerck recommends treating it with the same care as you would other sensitive omega-3 oils:

  • Keep in a cool, dark place
  • Purchase smaller bottles rather than larger to ensure freshness
  • Immediately replace the cap after each pour

To help protect extra virgin olive oil from oxidation, Dr. Moerck suggests putting one drop of astaxanthin into the bottle. You can purchase astaxanthin, which is an extremely potent antioxidant, in soft gel capsules. Just prick it with a pin and squeeze the capsule into the oil.

The beautiful thing about using astaxanthin instead of another antioxidant such as vitamin E, is that it is naturally red, whereas vitamin E is colorless, so you can tell the oil still has astaxanthin in it by its color.

As the olive oil starts to pale in color, you know it's time to throw it away.

You can also use one drop of lutein in your olive oil. Lutein imparts an orange color and will also protect against oxidation. Again, once the orange color fades, your oil is no longer protected against rancidity and should be tossed.

This method is yet another reason for buying SMALL bottles. If you have a large bottle, you may be tempted to keep it even though it has begun to oxidize.

The Worst Cooking Oils of All

Polyunsaturated fats are the absolute WORST oils to use when cooking because these omega-6-rich oils are highly susceptible to heat damage.

This category includes common vegetable oils such as:

  • Corn
  • Soy
  • Safflower
  • Sunflower
  • Canola

Damaged omega-6 fats are disastrous to your health, and are responsible for far more health problems than saturated fats ever were.

Trans fat is the artery-clogging, highly damaged omega-6 polyunsaturated fat that is formed when vegetable oils are hardened into margarine or shortening.

I strongly recommend never using margarine or shortening when cooking. I guarantee you you're already getting far too much of this damaging fat if you consume any kind of processed foods, whether it be potato chips, pre-made cookies, or microwave dinners...

Trans fat is the most consumed type of fat in the US, despite the fact that there is no safe level of trans fat consumption, according to a report from the Institute of Medicine.

Trans fat raises your LDL (bad cholesterol) levels while lowering your HDL (good cholesterol) levels, which of course is the complete opposite of what you want. In fact, trans fats -- as opposed to saturated fats -- have been repeatedly linked to heart disease. They can also cause major clogging of your arteries, type 2 diabetes and other serious health problems.

Personally I don't cook very much but when I do I use our Pure Virgin Coconut Oil as it is the most resistant to heating damage, but also a great source of medium chained triglycerides and lauric acid.