Category Archives: Health

Olba’s Pastilles in the USA

Olbas Pastilles

I just spotted Olba’s Pastilles at my local Sprouts supermarket. Different packaging than the British version, but certainly the same herbal lozenges we all know and love when you’re feeling under the weather!


Staching up for Movember

David Beckham, Tom Hanks and Nick Cannon are just a few who are celebrating Movember this year.

I just looked at the calendar and realized that we are nearly smack-dab in the middle of Movember and I haven’t even blogged about it yet.

If you’re new to Movember, here’s the skinny: It’s a movement designed to raise awareness of prostate and testicular cancer. Also known as “No-Shave November,” the goal is to keep the razors at bay for the full month of November. It actually began in Australia but has since taken the world by storm.

I must admit that I have known quite a few Brits who have done (and continue to do it) each November, but haven’t seen the same enthusiasm stateside. What do you think? Is this still taking off in the US?

Airborne and Berocca

So it’s been a ridiculously busy week for me and I’ve been nobly fighting off the beginnings of a cold for several days now.

My battle plan is simple: at first signs of a cold, I drop an Airborne in a small cup of water, wait until it stops fizzing and drink. This vitamin-packed tablet always seems to stave off a cold for me if taken early.

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Big shot

Yesterday, I had to take a tuberculosis skin test for work. A truly foreign concept for Brits, who receive a Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (better known as a BCG) vaccine in childhood and then are done with it.

Now most Americans have no idea that a vaccine exists for tuberculosis. I know I didn’t. I thought it was a joke when I studied in Scotland and found that everyone had this weird pox scar on their upper arm, a scar left over from the vaccine. Apparently the shot hurts like hell when you get it. I mean, pox-scarring, hold-on-don’t-pass-out pain. But it means immunity for life. Well, almost.

Apparently, the efficacy of the shot actually depends on your geography. Whaaaa? Yes, apparently UK trials have shown a 60-80% protective rate, but the closer you get to the equator, the less effective the shot. And there are scientific reasons for that, but I won’t bore you.

What I will say is that it does sort of explain why American doctors, who are typically vaccine-crazy, don’t give out the BCG vaccine. Only these TB skin tests, which can be given on a regular basis to check for exposure to TB.

We have dodged the big needle, my friends. Sometimes, being American has its privileges.