Turmeric: Mega Inflammation Fighter

Turmeric: Mega Inflammation Fighter

As Yogi Berra so famously said, "It’s déjà vu all over again" when I pick up yet another report singing the praises of the spice turmeric, with its many and varied health benefits. Just recently I’ve seen research reporting that turmeric (in combination with vitamin D) helps fight Alzheimer’s disease and obesity (by suppressing growth of fatty tissue) and is soothing to skin burned by radiation therapy...

Study finds nurses playing a larger role in faith community

Sunday, July 26, 2009
Sara Foss (Contact)
Gazette Reporter

CAPITAL REGION — Elizabeth Parks worships at Immaculate Conception in Glenville.

And she’s a nurse there, too.

Parks is one of the parish’s faith community nurses — a registered nurse who serves a religious congregation. Her number is listed in the church bulletin, and parishioners can contact her about health issues. She organizes monthly blood pressure screenings, visits parishioners who are in the hospital and hosts talks on health. She’s also sponsored exercise classes and helps coordinate a biannual healing Mass.

“I enjoy doing this because I’m giving back to people,” Parks said. “I know people have a lot of questions.”
A recent study of parish/faith community nurses found that they are playing an increasing role in providing better access to basic health services for underserved populations.

The report, titled “Findings From a Study of Parish Nurses/Faith Community Nurses in the United States,” was put together by the Center for Health Workforce Studies at the University at Albany’s School of Public Health. It was partially funded by Ascension Health, the nation’s largest Catholic health system and one of the largest sponsors of parish/faith community nurses in the U.S.

Although the study is national in scope, much of the research was conducted in the Capital Region, where Troy-based Seton Health, an Ascension affiliate, sponsors a parish/faith community nursing program that serves 27 local churches and has about 43 participating nurses.

Sandra McGinnis, a senior research associate at the Center for Health Workforce Studies and author of the report, said parish/faith community nursing is different from traditional hospital nursing. “The services run by parish nurses are much closer to a public health model than a medical model,” she said. “They emphasize the prevention of disease, the management of disease. The medical model is focused on a cure.”

“With a public health model, the community is the patient,” said Fran Zoske, a faith community nurse who co-authored the report and also serves as the director of health promotion and wellness programs at CDPHP.
Parish/faith community nurses do not provide hands-on clinical services. Instead, they offer support and health education to parishioners, referrals, counseling and assistance navigating the health care system. Their focus is holistic, with an emphasis on mind, body and spirit. Most parish/faith community nurses are volunteers at the congregations where they worship.


The approach has been around since 1984 but is not broadly understood. The Center for Health Workforce Studies paper represents one of the first efforts to collect nationwide data and the study notes that “few statistics are available about parish nurse/FCNs. Indeed, there are currently no national counts available of active parish nurse/FCNs.”

Parish/faith community nursing is much more common in the Midwest than the Northeast, where the concept is also fairly unknown.

But McGinnis said that more people are becoming aware as the number of nurses continues to rise. “The big thing that’s surprised me is how widespread this is, and how it’s growing and the enormous potential there,” she said.
The country has a nursing shortage, and McGinnis and Zoske say the nurses can fill in some of the gaps; their study found that it is a way for retired nurses to make a positive impact on public health.

“Our big concern is the nursing shortage,” McGinnis said. “It is one avenue where nurses can contribute to the health of a community outside of a nine-to-five job. … The nursing work force is aging. Half of all nurses are in their late 40s or older. We feel it might be a model for nurses who can’t work at a bedside anymore.”

The average nurse leaves the profession after five years, mainly because the job is demanding and exhausting. “They don’t want to work 12-hour shifts in a hospital anymore,” McGinnis said. “But they have this whole wealth of knowledge.” Many nurses also discover that it’s difficult to do the things they went into nursing to do, Zoske said. “Their time with patients is limited,” she said. “A new mom is in the hospital for 24 hours.”
Many parish nurses view their work as a spiritual or religious calling.

“They’re people who are looking for something else,” Zoske said. In a medical setting “The patient is less of a focus. But if you’re faith-based, the congregation is your entire focus.”
According to the study, 58 percent of these nurses serve a Roman Catholic congregation, and 31 percent serve a Protestant congregation. The remainder were Episcopal (5 percent), non-denominational (3 percent) or other (4 percent). In the Capital Region, several synagogues have them.


Angela Sheehan, director of parish/faith community nursing at Seton, said it is “rooted in a long mission of Jesus Christ as healer. It brings spirituality and health together. It brings healing back to the churches, which is where it used to be. The whole premise is that you cannot separate spirituality and emotional well-being from physical health. In the medical model, there’s no room for that.”

A parish nurse can pray with a parishioner, Sheehan said. “They can embrace family members,” she said. “They try to connect with parishioners at a spiritual well-being level.”

Sheehan said that when a parish nurse begins providing services at a church, they often announce their presence by holding a blood pressure screening. “That way the congregants can see who they are.” Contact information is also listed in bulletins, and the nurses work closely with clergy.

Many patients often return to the hospital for reasons that are preventable, and one goal is reducing the patient recidivism rate, Sheehan said. “We’re trying to intervene, to empower the patient,” she said. “A lot of times, they get out of the hospital and they have an appointment with the doctor in a month. In the meantime, their health cascades down, and they’re back in the hospital.”

Sheehan is a registered nurse, and she volunteers at her parish, Our Lady of Victory in Troy.

“When I went into nursing, I thought I was going to do what parish nurses do,” Sheehan said. “I thought there would be time to talk with patients, and pray with them, and give them teaching. I tried to interject when I could, but in hospitals you have to carry out doctors’ orders, and do paperwork. If someone is in isolation, you need to bathe them and change their dressing. It’s all task-oriented things that you have to get accomplished.”


Zoske was Seton Health/St. Mary’s Hospital’s first director of faith community nursing, and built the program from scratch, hosting lunches for local clergy to introduce them to the concept. It was a slow process.
“I would plant the seed,” Zoske said. “Three to five years later, there would be an ‘aha’ moment. I learned to be patient and wait for things.”

There are now about a dozen parish/faith community nursing programs in New York.

In their study, McGinnis and Zoske surveyed more than 500 faith community nurses. They found that the nurses were 99 percent women, with a median age of 50. About 37 percent served in congregations in suburban areas, 23 percent served in congregations in rural areas, 17 percent served in congregations in small cities and 23 percent served congregations in large urban areas. Half of the nurses in the study were affiliated with Ascension.

“Quite a number of parish nurses work in rural areas,” McGinnis said. “They may be the only contact some parishioners have with the health care system.”

Parks said she’s been doing parish nursing for about eight years.

“What appealed to me was the fact that faith community nursing goes back for centuries, to when taking care of the sick was done by Jesus and the prophets, the early church and the religious orders,” said Parks, who is the director of Dayhaven Adult Day Services, an adult day care run by Catholic Charities of Schenectady County.
Parks’ church, Immaculate Conception, has about 2,000 members. She is one of about eight nurses who serve the congregation.

Vitamin D, the Sun & Your Health!

Remember the lyrics from the 1980’s musical Hair, “let the sun shine in.”  Well we’re discovering just how much vitamin D—the sunshine vitamin—is needed to optimize your health. So if you’ve been slathering on the sun block and skirting sun exposure, you’ll want to pay attention….

Up to 85% of Americans are vitamin D deficient!

There’s a new standard for what constitutes an “adequate” level of vitamin D. Early in my career, it was drilled into our heads not to prescribe too much of the fat-soluble vitamins, like vitamin D—because it could build up to toxic levels in your body. But as I found out with my cardiovascular patients years ago, the mere 400 IUs of vitamin D we were told to prescribe wasn’t nearly enough. Plus, we’re learning that not all forms of vitamin D are equal. There are actually two forms, D2 and D3. D2 is found in some foods, and a lot of preparations. But it’s less active than D3, which is the form of vitamin D your skin manufactures with exposure to UV light (sunshine). Plus, we’re learning that D3 is just as much hormone as it is a nutrient, and getting enough is critical for preventing many diseases.

Without enough vitamin D, you’re at higher risk for everything from diabetes to cancer

We’ve long-known that vitamin D helps with the absorption of calcium and phosphorous, which are vital nutrients for bone health. That’s why vitamin D deficiencies are linked with rickets. Now we know that vitamin D affects your immune system as well, modulating many activities in the body—including promoting anti-tumor activity. In fact, the number of health conditions linked with low levels of vitamin D is extremely long and growing. Just look at the latest research…      • Human and animal studies have shown that vitamin D deficiency impairs insulin synthesis and secretions. In fact, of the 23 million Americans with diabetes many are deficient in vitamin D.      • In a study of 3,000 type I diabetics, there was a decreased disease risk for those who took vitamin D supplements.      •  In a European study of 3,369 men ages 40–79, low levels of vitamin D were associated with poorer scores on cognitive tests.      •  Human, animal, and epidemiologic studies have suggested that vitamin D plays a role in preventing certain cancers, including prostate, breast and colon cancers. Plus, studies have found that low levels of vitamin D are also associated with type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, arthritis, Crohn’s disease, hypertension, fibromyalgia, and cardiovascular disease. Some research has even linked vitamin D deficiencies with PMS.

What’s the best way to ensure you’re not on the vitamin D “risk list?”

What I tell my patients is they need to shoot for 2,000–4,000 IUs of vitamin D3 a day if they’re healthy, and 5,000 to 10,000 IUs daily if they’re compromised with a chronic illness, or even an illness of uncertain cause like fibromyalgia. The best way to get that is through a good vitamin D supplement, and eating foods like vitamin D fortified milk, salmon, and tuna. If you’re taking any medications, and especially blood thinners or laxatives—you need to be careful since they can deplete your body’s store of vitamin D. In fact, if you’re taking these medications, you want to insist that your doctor periodically test your vitamin D levels. Now, let’s get back to the sunshine factor. To ensure you have adequate levels of vitamin D, you also want to get at least 20 minutes a day of sun exposure. Which brings me to my next point…

Is “sun phobia” making us vitamin D deficient?

As some of you know, my mom had a history of melanoma. But still, I would get her out in the backyard for a short dose of sunshine, shading her face with a big hat and covering her Irish skin with a light long sleeved shirt and slacks in warm weather. On chilly days, we’d expose the back of her hands while we chatted outside in coats and cover. In fact, a recently published study suggests that an optimum Vitamin D level can actually protect us from cancer due to its properties of D3—which we’re still exploring. Plus research is revealing that when it comes to vitamin D and sun exposure, we’re all unique. Some of us may be able to garner more protection from cancer due to the hormone-like properties of vitamin D than others. For instance, an Italian study suggests there’s a specific gene—the BSml gene—that’s related to melanoma. And the newest research is investigating whether sun exposure may have an “anti-melanoma effect”—due to the activation of vitamin D.

The bottom line…

You must have adequate vitamin D, and especially D3, for optimum health. If you are already diagnosed with diabetes, you can prevent complications, and perhaps turn your condition on its tail by addressing your vitamin D status. Ask your MD to get a level if it hasn’t been done. Same for folks at risk for or suffering with cognitive decline, or any of the other health concerns mentioned. The truth is we should all have our vitamin D levels evaluated when we have routine blood work to know where we stand. Getting enough vitamin D to protect your health is so easy and cost effective it’s just a no-brainer!
To Your Health, Stephen Sinatra, M.D., F.A.C.C., F.A.C.N.



Think a little pasta dish here and there can't do any damage?  Noodle THIS... Read More...

Do you know any female, age 40, in need of a...

Do you know any female, age 40, in need of a Mammogram or Pap Smear who has no insurance or a large co-pay for such a test?
How about a male age 50 who needs a Colorectal Screening and has no Health Insurance?... Read More...

Aging Well: Eating Right for Longevity

Is your diet the key to longevity? Find out why eating right just may mean aging right, too.
By  Elizabeth M. Ward, MS
WebMD Feature
Reviewed by 
Brunilda Nazario, MD

Aging: everyone does it, yet some people seem relatively unaffected by getting older. Could good
nutrition be the key to a healthier, longer life?
Does Aging Equal Illness? ...

free community workshop...

Gilda's Club is having a free community workshop presented by Dr. Herbolt, DC on "Cancer and Nutrition."... Read More...

Preventive Measures for Flu Outbreaks

The recent outbreak of swine flu has many people wondering what they can do to protect themselves and their families against this virus. Here are five simple precautionary measures from the Center for Disease Control (CDC)... Read More...

It only takes a minute to read this...

It only takes a minute to read this...

A neurologist says that if he can get to a stroke victim within 3 hours he can totally reverse the effects of a stroke...
totally. He said the trick was getting a stroke recognized, diagnosed, and then getting the patient medically cared for within 3 hours, which is tough.


Visit this website...

Visit the following site:   http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=4752354n and click on the article "Fountain of Youth in a Wine Rx?"...



The National Nutrition Month message for 2009 is “Eat Right!”  Eating right and staying fit are important no matter what your age.  Help yourself to be your best by making healthy food choices and being physically active every day... Read More...

Dealing with the Demands of Change

by Ingrid Bacci, PhD, CST


    The global, societal and personal changes we are both witnessing and experiencing are dramatic and far-reaching in scope. How can we personally deal with them in the best way, transitioning as easily as possible into a new era? One way to answer this question might be to take two issues into consideration...

FDA Reform...

The FDA to its own admission lacks the competency and capacity to keep up with scientific... Read More...

New Defy Diabetes Program Reminder

New Defy Diabetes Program Reminder

Trinity Church will be offering 4 free Healthy Living Classes starting Saturday March 7 from 10 am to 12 noon.  Classes 2-4 will take place on Sat. March 14, 21 and 28 respectively. The program is free and open to all. Class size is limited .  If interested, please call Sal Casano at 783-4387 or e mail Sal
sal4vera@aol.com.  We ask that you report to the first class at 9:30 am for collection of information and completing forms . 

Defy Diabetes Meetings

Defy Diabetes Meetings

Sunday, February 22 4th Focus Group(11:15 am)

Sunday, March 1  Special Focus Group with Debbie Frenn(Seton Health) at 11:15 am

Sunday, March 29 5th Focus Group(11:15 am)