Dr.Karol, MD

The doctor with alternative solutions

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Discussing Pregnancy Health

It goes without saying that when it comes to pregnancy, everyone hopes for a healthy baby and a healthy delivery. However, being aware of potential roadblocks is essential for everyone involved, especially the new baby. Of all common concerns, birth defects are  a complex concept. Neural tube defects are among the most common form of birth defects. Fortunately, in most cases they are completely preventable with adequate intake of jamieson folic acid. Essentially, these defects are due to the failure of proper fusion of the vertebral column around the spinal cord. The consequences vary from insignificant to severe, causing complete lack of the brain in the skull upon birth. The best preventative medicine is early pregnancy detection and appropriate supplementation.

pregnancy health


But there are many other developmental conditions that cause birth defects. Some are genetic such as Down Syndrome (trisomy 21), Patau syndrome (trisomy 13), Edwards syndrome (trisomy 18), Cri du chat syndrome (missing part of chromosome 5), Turner syndrome (missing the X chromosome in a female) and so on. The term “trisomy” refers to the presence of 3 chromosomes of the same type instead of 2. The symptoms of these conditions are inevitable since they are genetic, although the severity of symptoms varies among individuals.

Many factors, both controllable and uncontrollable, play a role in pregnancy health. One of the most commonly discussed health factors is in regards to the age of the mother.. The optimal age for child bearing is between the ages of 18 and 30. Women past the age of 30 have an increasingly higher chance of the fetus acquiring these mutations. That certainly doesn’t mean you can’t decide to start a family past the age of 30. However, paying attention to genetic testing becomes of higher importance. Testing can be conducted by chorionic villus sampling (taking a cell sample from the placenta) and then a little later on by amniocentesis (sampling the fluid that the baby swims in). Other important tests for these conditions are routine abdominal ultrasounds.

city baby


The third types of birth defects are caused from exposure to toxins during pregnancy. The most common are tobacco smoke (which leads to growth retardation), alcohol (which can lead to growth retardation and fetal alcohol syndrome), most prescription medications (this is complex and should be discussed prior to conceiving with ones doctor), cocaine and other stimulants such as crystal meth, heroin and other opioids, and environmental toxins and pollutants. The last category includes obvious toxic substances such as paints, varnishes, gas fumes, other chemical fumes, heavy metals and so on but it also includes less well thought of substances such as food preservatives, food pesticides and food herbicides. Even fluoride in tap water is toxic to the fetus.

So the take home message is this: Once pregnancy is detected, begin taking folic acid, and of course quit smoking, drinking alcohol, or engaging in illicit drugs. If you take prescription medications consult with your doctor. Request a referral to a gynecologist/obstetrician and schedule all appointments for the entire pregnancy. If your partner smokes, encourage him to quit or be sure he never smokes near you. Eat healthy: meaning lots of wild fish, Jamieson fish oils, fruits and vegetables. Try and cut out all processed foods or junk food. Try switching to an organic diet, if possible. Be sure to drink adequate fluids. The less stress throughout a pregnancy, the better, so maintaining a stable and calm environment is extremely important. And remember, if you’re over the age of 30 you are able to obtain genetic testing in addition to what is offered by our free (yet limited) health care system. Good luck on a healthy and happy pregnancy.


Insomnia: Causes and Natural Solutions

In order to fall asleep and stay asleep we must be calm both physically and mentally. Without this balance we will have a hard time falling asleep and maintaining sleep. Anything that overstimulates our brain will negatively impact our sleep cycles. The most common causes of sleep disturbances generally stem from stress, environmental stimuli and in some cases substance abuse.  Too much stress or a hectic home environment can preoccupy our brains to the point of insomnia. This is especially true with work or tasks that deal with a great level of responsibility.

New York City at night

Of course there are natural methods to help facilitate sleep. First sleep in a dark environment (light inhibits the release of melatonin, the sleep hormone in our brain). A great way to relax before sleep is by meditation, reading a relatively boring book, taking a hot bath or shower, drinking a warm glass of milk with honey (milk contains tryptophan which stimulates sleep and honey contains simple sugars which also facilitate sleep). If you need something stronger you can opt for melatonin, tryptophan or herbal teas that contain valerian, hops, chamomile or passion flower. All of these are well known sleep herbs.



A word about alcohol: Alcohol is a neural depressant. This means that it acts as a depressant on the brain. It relaxes the nerves and the brain. When you stop drinking there is a rebound effect in the opposite direction. The brain is overstimulated and you will have problems sleeping for a while. This usually lasts a few days up to a couple of weeks (depending on how much and how long you have been drinking for). Drinking more alcohol will temporarily help in this situation. But you don’t want to do this as it will lead to alcoholism. Try the natural options listed above. If you still have major problems sleeping look into the use of medical marijuana for insomnia. You can legally get a prescription and it is an effective method for insomnia (especially the indica strains that are high in CBD content).

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Remember also that other deficiencies (other than melatonin) can also lead to sleep problems. The most common type is the deficiency of the B vitamins. Try a B complex vitamin before sleep and you may notice a significant difference. Try not to eat a large meal right before bed and be sure to exercise at least a few hours before bed (right before can cause over-stimulation). Again, hot milk and some simple sugars (in the form of honey for example) induce sleep, while stimulants such as coffee, chocolate, black and green tea can inhibit sleep. Of course, also steer clear of stimulating illicit drugs such as cocaine, amphetamine, etc before sleep (and at times if possible).

Finally, try and stay away from over-the-counter sleep aids or prescription sleeping pills if possible, as they can be highly addictive. If you must use something strong try medical marijuana. But remember it may leave you drowsy in the morning. Till next time.


Dr. Karol

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Coffee: How much is too much? Is it even healthy?

The debate over health benefits of drinking coffee is seemingly never ending. As with most things in life, when it comes to how much is too much coffee there are a variety of factors to consider. Everybody metabolizes coffee and caffeine in different ways and at different rates. Thus, what is too much for one person may be just fine for another. Another factor to consider is the state of mind and body at any given time: Are you an anxiety-prone individual? If so, 5 cups of coffee in one day may be too much.  Are you super sleepy because of rainy weather? Then 3 cups may be just fine. Are you dehydrated and exhausted from a long trip? In that case, even one cup may be very unhealthy..

latte art



Coffee comes with both desirable and undesirable affects. The good is that it contains flavonoids that are also found in fruits and vegetables. These are anti-oxidants that protect our body from damage caused by pollutants and bad diet. However, coffee is not the richest source of flavonoids to say the least. It’s a similar story with red wine. Yes it contains resveratrol that protects the heart but to get that effect you must drink 5 to 10 glasses of wine a day and by doing so you are causing way more damage due to alcohol. The actual caffeine content also plays a major role. When in low amounts it increases wakefulness, mental acuity, better mood etc. But in higher amounts it causes lack of long term memory retention, anxiety, and increased blood pressure. Caffeine is also a diuretic. This can also be good or bad. In general it’s not a good thing because it depletes your body of fluid (including electrolytes). But on the other hand if you have excessive fluid retention in your body (such as after a long exhausting trip (usually causing retention in your legs due to compromised kidney function) then it may actually relieve the work load on the heart due to the excessive fluid.

coffee at the office

Another thing about coffee is that it irritates the lining of the stomach. This may cause cramps, acidity, and a general unpleasant feeling in the stomach. There is great variation among individuals with respect to this phenomenon. Some people don’t suffer this at all, while others have to stay away from caffeine entirely.

This brings us back to the original question: How many cups is too many? Like mentioned before it all depends on the individual and the state of body and mind she or he is in at the moment. However, generally speaking, 4 cups each day or more is more than enough before we develop long term rise in blood pressure, which is an extremely undesirable effect. Increased blood pressure can cause damage to all organs of the body and most notoriously the heart, the kidneys and the brain.

fresh coffee groundsFinally, always remember fresh ground, organic coffee is much healthier than instant. Instant coffee is typically exposed to various chemicals to make it an “instant” option (however, there are healthy instant coffee alternatives. It’s also typically much more irritating to the stomach. The best options are fresh, high-quality whole beans, or freshly ground beans coming from the purest sources.


See you next time.


Dr. Karol



Binaural Beats



This one is literally wild. Binaural beats are sounds that are introduced into each ear at different sound frequencies. They are usually mystical in their tone as to facilitate deeper creative thinking and relaxation. Whatever the difference between the two sounds in each ear, your brain wave patterns will move towards that difference. Or so at least the theory goes.

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Radical Remedies: Propolis




Propolis is a compound that bees use to seal and stabilize their hives. It also protects the hives from bacterial and fungal infections. Bees also use Propolis to mummify carcasses of small mammals and reptiles when they are too large to carry out of the hive. The bodies of these animals are preserved, preventing rotting and disease. Pretty incredible, right? It’s all thanks to the antibiotic nature of Propolis. Bees manufacture this compound by collecting resins on trees and flowers, as opposed to collecting pollen for honey production.

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Radical Remedy: Food as Medicine



You really are what you eat. The British Journal of Medicine states that a Mediterranean diet keeps people genetically younger, with their cells showing fewer signs of aging. The study was conducted on 5000 nurses over a decade. Specifically, scientists looked at structures called telomeres. These are protective caps at the end of chromosomes that protect our DNA from losing genetic information during cellular division. With each consecutive division, the telomeres shorten. When they reach a critical length, they signal cells to stop dividing, which essentially leads to aging.


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