Category: Health and Wellness

Big Promises, Bigger Failures: When Public Education Makes You Sick

Promises, promises… We take it as a given that schooling is good for us, that overall population health increases with increased educational attainment. Indeed, from their founding, public schools have promised to improve population health as part of their basic mission. As a result, in the name of health concerns, schools have long held a… Read more →

A Pot of Herbs, A Plastic Sheet, and Thou: A Historian Goes for a “V-Steam”

The first time I walked into the women’s area of my local Korean spa a few years back, my nose and my medical-history Spidey Sense both twitched. The unmistakable herbal scents of mugwort and yarrow were in the air, pleasant but almost strong enough to make me cough. Clearly there was some sort of medicinal… Read more →

VULVALUV: Taking Wearable Tech to a New Place

It seems like every day a new health tracking gizmo appears in stores. The fitbit. The Apple Watch. TICKRx. Leaf, a tracker that’s advertised as “for women” because it’s a fitbit copycat shaped like a piece of jewelry. But are any of these really that special? Do any of them really understand what women need?… Read more →

Pregnancy, Fear, and Conformity

Last fall, while in the midst of a severe head cold and four months pregnant, I emailed my obstetrician: “can I take Sudafed?” Within the hour he responded with “no sudafed until after 20 weeks if at all — concern is gastroschisis.” After Googling “gastroschisis” (a birth defect in the abdominal wall of the fetus… Read more →

Don’t Eat That, Eat This: The Troubled History of Food Stamps and Nutrition

Lately, it seems like everywhere I turn I see discussions about how poor people use their money, how they should use their money better, and how we can force their hands to change those spending habits. In an attempt to crack down on welfare use, Missouri Republican Rock Brattin recently proposed that we “get the… Read more →

A Doctor, a Patient, a Rash, and Google

Don’t you hate it when you can’t get your doctor to agree with your own assessment of your symptoms? Never mind that she’s been to medical school and has years of experience. It’s MY body, and so I would like that fact to have as much weight in the diagnostic process. Alas, it does not…. Read more →

A Short History of Homeopathy: From Hahnemann to Whole Foods

A few weeks ago, I found myself in an increasingly common situation: I decided to go grocery shopping at Whole Foods (sale items only please, I’m a grad student). As usual, I had to follow up my trip with a second stop at a “regular” grocery store to fill in the gaps on my grocery… Read more →

The Nanny State on Your Plate?

In late November, the FDA finalized new rules for calorie counts on menus. In about a year, all food establishments with over twenty locations will need to post the calories of regular items directly on the menu. Other nutrition facts must be available on request. In about two years, vending machine companies owning more than… Read more →

Not Done Yet: Midwifing a Return to Social Birth

As a doula, I have the privilege of attending other women’s labors and deliveries. Recently I attended a delivery assisted by a midwife at a large-scale hospital. The midwife and the nursing staff supported the fearless mama as she labored away in a large room with a wall of windows looking out on a beautiful… Read more →

Advertising Hormonal Contraception: Medicalizing the Natural

In recent years, there has been great debate about access to contraception, particularly the hormonal birth control pill. In 1957, the first hormonal birth control pill was approved by the FDA for severe menstrual disorders, in 1960 it was approved for contraceptive use, and by 1965 it had been legalized for married couples by the… Read more →