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Maca, Pollen and Spirulina: How Good are Superfoods?
by Francisco Renick, M.D.

Nowadays, it is common for people to add the so-called superfoods, or nutritional supplements, such as Maca, Spirulina or bee pollen to their food or smoothies since they are known for bringing great benefits to our health. Nosara and Samara have not escaped this trend and these are now commonly offered to complement meals and drinks. However, how good are they?

• Naturopathic centers around the world state that it is effective for anemia prevention in pregnant women, thanks to its high iron concentration which can be readily absorbed. However, studies conducted at the School of Pharmacy of the Universidad de Costa Rica show that Spirulina contains phenylalanine and should not be used by pregnant or lactating women.
• Vegetarians should not rely on Spirulina as their sole source of Vitamin B12 because, although it has high amounts of this vitamin, most of it is in a form that cannot be absorbed by humans.
• Health stores, naturopathic centers and people who sell the supplement guarantee that it has no contraindications. However, conventional medicine differs, stating that Spirulina should not be used by people with medical conditions such as gout, phenylketonuria or those who have experienced allergic reactions or previous intolerance to the product.
• Nonetheless, both parts agree that it decreases cholesterol levels (although conventional medicine states that its benefits disappear once people stop taking it), improves immunologic response and provides antioxidant effects. In addition, naturopathic medicine also confers Spirulina renal protective effects and appetite suppressing properties, making it a weight loss aid. However, research has shown no evidence either to support or refute these claims.

• This root, also known as the Peruvian Ginseng, increases libido or sexual desire. Most scientific research has shown that it improves sexual performance in both men and post-menopausal women.
• Naturopathic medicine experts state that, in addition to increasing sexual energy, Maca enhances female fertility. However, this may be a direct consequence of an increase in the couple’s sexual activity.
• Medical research has shown that it should not be used by people with high blood pressure (as is the case with most medications prescribed for sexual dysfunction) or thyroid disease (since it has glucosinolates, which inhibit the thyroid gland’s activity). In addition, due to its energy-enhancing properties, it may cause anxiety or insomnia and should not be taken at night.

• Naturopathic experts claim among its benefits that it decreases blood pressure, speeds up the wound healing process and is also used for relief in prostatic conditions, varicose veins, anemia and asthma. Pollen is also promoted as an energy booster, a performance enhancer and for memory improvement. However, there is no scientific evidence to confirm these effects.
• No contraindications have been documented for bee pollen however, potentially-lethal allergic reactions may occur with even small amounts, in some cases less than a teaspoon.
• In regards to its effectiveness, medical research has not yielded significant results that support it.

If you decide to take any of these products, always make sure that they are approved by the Costa Rican Ministerio de Salud or the competent authorities. The sale of these products at a lower price, without any regulations or the necessary health inspections to ensure that they are safe for human consumption is common in Costa Rica and therefore, it is important to be well-informed.

We will be happy to answer your health-related questions,
please send them to: [email protected]



Understand Diabetes and Take Control

By María José Zamora, M.D.

Under the slogan “Let’s take control of diabetes. Now.”, the International Diabetes Federation and the World Health Organization (WHO) wish to raise awareness of the diabetes pandemic that currently affects 250 million people worldwide, causing the death of approximately two Ticos per day and placing an additional 300 million people at risk for developing it, alarming numbers that are on the rise.

With the theme Diabetes Education and Prevention for the 2009-2013 period, this day will be celebrated by more than 200 member associations in over 160 countries.

To learn more about diabetes warning signs in children and adults and for additional information and educational resources regarding World Diabetes Day, please visit the website www.worlddiabetesday.org


Although dengue fever rates have decreased in the area, prevention is the best strategy
to avoid its transmission

By María José Zamora, M.D.

•Cover all containers that are used for water storage purposes.

•Remove all containers where rainwater may accumulate.

•Clean and repair your home or workplace’s roof gutters.

•Wash and scrub all sinks with a brush, keeping the drains clear at all times.

•Cover and fill any holes on walls, trees or construction blocks with cement or sand. Also, fill any unused septic tanks, drains or latrines with soil in order to prevent the accumulation of stagnant water.

•Substitute the water in your flower vases or pots for sand or soil.

•Apply a household insecticide to all corners and dark places in your home. Remember to apply it under the beds and behind large furniture.

•Teach children and other community members about the importance of their role within the community’s health, showing them actions that they can take in order to prevent the mosquito from breeding and thereby, the dengue fever from spreading.



More Health News

Know your diabetes and take control
Diabetes screening in Nosara

On Monday November 15, the Pharmacy Nosara will be giving diabetes exams from 8 am-12 pm and 1 pm-7 pm. Any one of any age can receive the exam, child or adult.

Normally, the cost is ¢2,000-¢3,000, but during this time the charge will be ¢1,000, plus checking for high blood pressure. More >

After the Flood Take Care of Your Health

After the heavy rains caused by tropical storm Thomas over the last week, the country's water infrastructure has been severely damaged, causing water sources to become contaminated. Nosara and the surrounding towns are not the exception and therefore, these safety and health-related guidelines should be followed: More >





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