Monthly Archives: September 2016


By Yvonne Blackwood

Continuing with our Theme Day—Landscape—and in particular, waterfalls (Do read parts 1 & 2 here and here if you missed those posts) unlike the two previous posts, this week we will spotlight a waterfall that is neither tall nor powerful, but it is a fabulous sight to behold!

Located in the hinterland of Jamaica in the parish of St. Elizabeth, most Jamaicans knew nothing about YS Fall for many years. In fact, I lived the earlier part of my life in Jamaica and had never heard about it. The reason? It is situated in the bushes on private property. Although the property remains an active horse and cattle farm, the owners opened up the vicinity containing the falls to the public in 1992.

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Surrounded by lush tropical fauna, YS Falls is spectacular with its seven tiers of white frothy waters, and pools at the foot of some tiers where people can bathe. The owners have made the falls accessible, added a gift shop and picnic area, and now tourists from all over the world are able to visit and enjoy its beauty—some even zip-line above it!


By Yvonne Blackwood

In my recent blog post, Does Green Tea Provide any Health Benefits? the focus was on green tea in particular. In this article I will deal with the health benefits of black and white teas, which are also brewed from the Camellia sinensis tea bush.

Black tea is more oxidized than Oolong, green, and white teas, and generally has a stronger flavour than these. So what are the other health benefits provided by black tea?


According to an article by WebMD, “Black tea is used for improving mental alertness as well as learning, memory and information processing skills. It is also used for treating headache and low blood pressure.” The article also states that black tea can be used for preventing Parkinson’s disease, and reducing the risk of stomach, colon, lung, ovarian, and breast cancer. This is interesting information since a 2006 Japanese study of green tea’s effect concluded that it did not reduced mortality due to cancer.

In an article by Cathy Wong, ND, physician, and an American College of Nutrition-certified nutrition specialist, naturopath, and journalist, she states: “While some studies indicate that regular consumption of black tea may reduce cancer risk, others report no cancer-related benefits of black tea intake…”

John Weisburger, PhD, senior researcher at the Institute for Cancer Prevention in Valhalla, N.Y., has a different take on the tea issue. He states: “Studies of humans and animals show that the antioxidants in black and green teas are highly beneficial to our health. I’ve published more than 500 papers, including a hell of a lot on tea…” He explains that all teas from the Camellia sinensis tea plant are rich in polyphenols, a type of antioxidant which is wonder nutrients that scavenge for cell-damaging free radicals in the body and detoxify them. Weisburger states that, “We found that both types of tea blocked DNA damage associated with tobacco and other toxic chemicals. In animal studies, tea-drinking rats have less cancer.” It seems the verdict is still out on the cancer issue.

Lowers Cholesterol

According to an article in Clinical Nutrition (2014) in a recent study, researchers conducted a comprehensive search to identify studies which evaluated the effects of black tea on low-density lipoprotein (LDL or ‘bad’) cholesterol, and on high-density lipoprotein (HDL or ‘good’) cholesterol, and on total cholesterol. The researchers found that drinking black tea significantly lowered LDL cholesterol, but not total cholesterol or HDL cholesterol. Moreover, the lowering effect of LDL cholesterol was greater in people who had a higher heart disease risk.
The researchers concluded that drinking black tea lowers LDL cholesterol, without effecting HDL and may be beneficial for people with an increased risk for heart disease. We note, however, that only 411 participants were evaluated in the study—a small amount for a study.

Anticancer Qualities in White Tea

The Linus Pauling Institute of Oregon State University carried out studies in which researchers tested white tea to determine whether it could help prevent genetic mutations in bacteria, and colon and rectal cancer in cancer-prone rats. They concluded that white tea appears to have more potent anticancer qualities than green tea. In both of the experiments conducted, white tea was seen to have a strong protective effect, and offered much more protection than green tea. Dr. Santana-Rios told Reuters Health, “I was surprised by the potency. We were not expecting that much of a good result.”

Stronger Bones and Teeth
Numerous studies have also shown that regular white tea drinkers had greater bone density than non drinkers of white tea. White tea has small amounts of fluoride which help to keep teeth and gums healthy.

Reverses Some of the Signs of Aging

White tea has also been shown to fight free radicals from sun, stress, and poor diet, and to reverse some of the signs of aging. According to a study by Kingston University in London, it seems that white tea may be an interesting option for reducing and preventing wrinkles. The researchers tested 21 different compounds, and found that white tea contains by far the highest concentration of antioxidants.

Green and Black Teas Provide Some Similar Health Benefits

A review of studies on health benefits of green and black teas commissioned by the UK Tea Advisory Panel, found that both are equally effective. We must bear in mind that both varieties come from the same Camellia sinensis plant, but are processed slightly differently. According to the researchers, studies that have looked at these two types of teas have confirmed similar improvements in vascular function, leading to significant reductions in stroke risk. The average intake in those studies was 4 cups per day for black tea and 5 to 6 cups per day for green tea.

It seems that in spite of the many researches and studies, not all findings are conclusive; there is still more work to be done.

Do you have some positive tea results stories to share? Do provide some comments.

Disclaimer: This blogsite is intended only to provide information, education, and entertainment. We do our very best to ensure the information we provide is accurate. Be reminded that nothing you find on our site is in any way intended to be a substitute for the medical care and advice your professional healthcare provider gives you, so be sure to visit him/her with any health issues.



By Yvonne Blackwood

Last Saturday, my Theme-Day post (Part 1) shone a spotlight on The Akaka Falls located in The Big Island of Hawaii. Since I have photographs of a few waterfalls taken in different parts of the world, I think it is appropriate to share them consecutively, hence this post.

When I visited Milford Sound—called Piopiotahi by the Maori—I was awestruck by the pristine, calm waters, craggy mountains, and the inordinate amount of waterfalls cascading down the mountainside. Located within Fiordland National Park in the south-west of New Zealand’s South Island, Milford Sound was judged the world’s top travel destination in an international survey—the 2008 Travelers’ Choice Destinations Awards. It is acclaimed as New Zealand’s most famous tourist destination.



Milford Sound hundreds of water falls

Milford Sound has two permanent waterfalls all year round, Lady Bowen Falls and Stirling Falls, however, whenever heavy rain falls in the area, hundreds of temporary waterfalls plunge down  the steep rock face which lines the fiord. I concluded that rain had poured earlier because when I arrived waterfalls were everywhere, the mist making photography difficult.

Milford Sound attracts more than 500,000 visitors per year, making it New Zealand’s most-visited tourist spot in spite of its remote location and great distance from the nearest population centres.

Fiordland was designated a World Heritage area by the United Nations in 1986.

Do you have a favourite waterfall?


By Yvonne Blackwood

People have always been fascinated with waterfalls—the thunderous roar of water cascading or plunging off a cliff, or over rocks, its uniformity, its white foaming beauty, its never-ending flow. Waterfalls can be voluminous like the famous Niagara Falls, or skinny, measuring only a couple feet across. But no matter their size, height, or volume, we still view waterfalls with awe.

When I gawk at a waterfall two questions always flow through my mind: How long has it been plunging off the same cliff, or over the same rocks? Will it continue to cascade/plunge forever? Of course, these are questions we cannot answer. Nature has a mind of its own and can disrupt anything at anytime. But humans seem to be the greater disruptor. Damming up rivers and diverting the flow of water are ways they have lessened the impact of waterfalls.

Hawaii Akaka Falls

Akaka Falls Hawaii 2

Above are two views of The Akaka Falls in Hawaii (The Big Island).  It is by no means voluminous; however, it certainly grabbed my attention. Located slightly off the beaten path, surrounded by fauna that is lush and green, Akaka Falls is skinny and steep, and plunges 442 ft off a cliff into a pool below.

Theme Day-Architecture: STUNG BY THE BEE!

By Yvonne Blackwood

During my travels across the globe, I have seen numerous imposing buildings and monuments; so many, it is difficult to determine which one has impressed me the most, or left me with a lasting feeling of awe. Looking through my photographs, I’ve concluded that The Beehive is one of the most fascinating pieces of architecture I have seen.

New Zealand Wellington The Beehive

The Beehive stands in Wellington, New Zealand’s capital located on the North Island’s most southern point. It is the name given to the Executive Wing of New Zealand’s Parliament Buildings. Built in stages between 1969 and 1979, the Beehive has ten floors, and is one of Wellington’s best-known landmarks, and the most recognizable buildings in the country.



By Yvonne Blackwood

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War, what is it good for? Absolutely nothing,” are words from a hit song produced by Motown in 1969.  The multi-million dollar question today is: “Tea, what is it good for? Absolutely many ailments, many pleasures.”

When the Chinese first discovered tea a few thousand years ago, they not only drank it as a beverage, they used it for medicinal purposes. According to ShenNong (supposedly mythical) some of tea’s medicinal benefits included the aid of bladder and lung infections. We do know for sure however, that during the Sui Dynasty (581-618), tea was certainly used for its medicinal qualities. Later tea became a beverage of entertainment and fellowship.

In recent times we have seen tea become the second most popular drink in the world, after water. But more importantly, we’ve heard about many researches, studies, and experiments which have shown that tea does indeed have medicinal value—more of it than one could have ever imagined. My dearly departed grandmother used to say, “There’s nothing new under the sun;” so it is with tea. The western world is now viewing tea as the Chinese had done thousands of years ago, but this time, in many instances, the health-benefit claims are backed up by research.

In one of my previous articles, “The Three Amigos Plus One Teas,” I elaborated on the four types of teas that are produced from the Camellia sinensis tea bush. In this article, I will highlight some of the health benefits of drinking tea, however, the subject has such a wide scope that I would not do it justice by lumping together the four types of teas and their benefits in one article. I will therefore focus here on some of the health benefits that green tea provides, and in part two I will discuss black, oolong, and white teas. Some studies indicate that all four teas provide some of the same benefits.

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Over the past two decades or so, it seems as if a new study showing the benefits of tea is produced monthly! What are we to believe?

Stress reducer

According to Chris Kilham, educator, medicine hunter, author, and founder of Medicine Hunter Inc., he conducted medicinal research in over 30 countries and has found that drinking green tea can help reduce stress. Green tea, and particularly matcha green tea, contains an amino acid called L-theanine that produces a calming effect. In addition, the mere act of drinking tea can be a relaxing ritual.

Halts or slows down Diabetes

An article published by Everyday Health, mentions that tea contains substances called polyphenols, which are antioxidants found in every plant. “Green tea, in particular, helps sensitize cells so they are better able to metabolize sugar. People who drank at least 6 cups of tea a week were less likely to develop diabetes, according to research.”

There seem to be a general consensus among researchers that green tea truly halts diabetes, because in another article, Suzanne Steinbaum, DO, cardiologist and director of women’s heart health at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, states that since people with diabetes have problems metabolizing sugar, they use insulin to decrease sugar levels, however with type 2 diabetes, the body is not so sensitive to insulin, therefore blood sugar levels do go up. She further states: “Through a complex biochemical reaction, tea — especially green tea — helps sensitize cells so they are better able to metabolize sugar. Green tea is good for people with diabetes because it helps the metabolic system function better.” It should be noted that this benefit comes from all teas, but more so with green tea because it has a higher level of polyphenols.

 Lowers the risk of death due to cardiovascular disease

Japanese researchers published a study in the 2006 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association in which they found that individuals who consumed five or more cups of green tea per day had a 26 percent lower risk of death due to cardiovascular disease than participants who consumed less than one cup of tea per day. In that study, researchers followed over 40,000 Japanese adults between the ages of 40 to 79 years who had no previous history of major disease for up to eleven years for death from all causes, and for up to seven years for death from a specific cause. Because cardiovascular disease is very complex, scientists are still exploring possible explanations for how regular consumption of tea reduces the risk of the disease. The conclusion is that green tea consumption is associated with reduced mortality due to all causes and due to cardiovascular disease but not with reduced mortality due to cancer. Research has indicated that tea flavonoids may help promote heart health by improving blood vessel and endothelial function, and by improving cholesterol levels.

Many studies and research have indicated that there are a myriad of other diseases which green tea seem to either halt, slow down, or eliminate. In a WebMD article, Beth Reardon, RD, Boston nutritionist, states, “It’s all about the catechin content.” Catechins, are a type of antioxidants that not only fight, but may also prevent cell damage.  Because green tea is processed minimally, it is rich in catechins.

Disclaimer: This blog is intended only to provide information, education, and entertainment. We do our very best to ensure the information we provide is accurate. Be reminded that nothing you find on our site or in our blogs is in any way intended to be a substitute for the medical care and advice your professional healthcare provider gives you, so be sure to visit him/her with any health issues.