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An Independent Monthly Newspaper Serving the Community since 1988


Chinese Herbalist performing free consultation at the Placitas Community Center

Dr. Susan Wong Booth has been involved with medicine since 1982. Born in Tianjin China, she graduated from Tianjin Medical University in 1990. In 1992 she began her residency in Emergency Medicine. By 1997, Susan was promoted Physician in Charge, a position she held for 20 years. In 2002 she relocated to the United States, where she lives today. She is a member of the American Herbalists Guild, and currently a licensed practitioner of herbal medicine

What is a herbal medicine? And why do I need it?

Herbal medicine has been used for over 3,000 years as a holistic approach to restore balance and harmony to the human mind and body. Herbal medicine is an art and a science. It promotes health and aids in preventing illness while also treating illnesses already existing in the body. The main focus of herbal medicine is to promote self healing, thereby helping the body to heal itself without any side effects. The primary philosophy in Chinese medicine is that everything in the body is connected. The kidneys, the lungs, heart, and every organ, all run on lines that are in the body. These lines are called meridians, which flow from head to toe and collect at the feet. The meridian lines are more like a river which flows throughout your body, but instead of flowing water, the meridians flow with energy to every part of the body. When one organ is weak, it negatively affects the flow of energy throughout the entire body, causing the weakness to spread and more illness for the individual. There are many different herbs that can be used to treat the symptoms of the illness, but also treat the causes behind the illness, keeping the flow of energy moving throughout the body.

How can I use herbal medicine?

There are many different ways to use herbs besides in just swallowing pills. A facial scrub of different herbs can help clear away dead skin and rejuvenate older faces leaving them silky smooth. Soaking feet in a tub of hot water and an herbal mix will help cleanse the flow of energy before it returns to the rest of the body.

Herbs are just plants, and plant parts. Knowing which plant and how to use it helps to restore the balance and flow of energy in the mind and body. With a good balance and flow of energy on the meridian lines, the body can self heal if there is an illness, and it can prevent illnesses from starting

Susan Booth will be available on Wednesday, August 18th from 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. for anyone interested. Please call Janice or Marylou for an appointment at 867-1396.

The Healthy Geezer

—Fred Cicetti

Q. I have a bet with a friend that you start losing your sense of taste as you get older. She says that her taste is as strong as ever and thinks I’m wrong. Who wins the bet?

 A. In general, sensitivity to taste gradually decreases with age. But there are some whose taste isn’t affected by getting older. Who wins the bet? I won’t touch that one.

The ability to taste food and beverages means a lot to seniors. Let’s face it; we lose a lot of the pleasures of our youth, but eating well isn’t usually one of them.

Taste also has a major impact upon our physical and mental health. Our sense of taste is especially important if we have to stay on a diet. If food loses its appeal, we may eat improperly and put ourselves at risk for heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Loss of taste can lead us to overeat, undereat, or add too much salt or sugar to our food.

While taste is important, we recognize flavors largely through our sense of smell. Try holding your nose while eating. Smell and taste are closely linked in the brain. It is common for people who lose their sense of smell to say that food has lost its taste. This is incorrect; the food has lost its aroma, but taste remains. Loss of taste occurs less frequently than loss of smell in older people.

When an older person has a problem with taste, it is often temporary and minor.

In some cases, loss of taste can accompany or signal a more serious condition, such as diabetes or some degenerative diseases of the central nervous system such as multiple sclerosis.

There are several types of taste disorders You can have a persistent bad taste in the mouth. This is called a dysgeusia. Some people have hypogeusia, or the reduced ability to taste. Others can’t detect taste at all, which is called ageusia. People with taste disorders experience a specific ageusia of one or more of the five taste categories: sweet, sour, bitter, salty, and savory.

The most common complaint is “phantom taste perception,” which is tasting something that isn’t there.

If you think you have a taste disorder, see your doctor. Many types of taste disorders are reversible, but, if not, counseling and self-help techniques may help you cope.

If you cannot regain your sense of taste, there are things you can do to ensure your safety. Take extra care to avoid food that may have spoiled.

Saving on prescription drugs

—Bob Moos, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services

Does the idea of saving hundreds, maybe even thousands, of dollars each year on your Medicare prescription drugs interest you?

If you’re on a tight budget and have limited resources, you may be able to get extra help paying for the premiums, deductible, and co-payments in your Medicare drug plan.

About one in three people with Medicare drug coverage get extra help. That’s ten million people just like you.

But many others who are eligible for the savings don’t even realize it.

Recent changes in the law make it easier than ever to qualify. Even if you applied and didn’t qualify before, you may be eligible now.

The amount of help you’d receive depends on your income and resources.

You may pay nothing for your monthly premiums or annual deductible and as little as $1.10 in co-payments for generic drugs and $3.30 for brand-name drugs.

You also may not have to worry about the “doughnut hole,” the gap in drug coverage when people pay the full cost of their prescriptions.

All told, the extra help can lower your prescription costs by 75 percent to 95 percent.

So, if you’re having difficulty affording your medications, it’s worth checking out. More than 1.8 million people on Medicare may be eligible for extra help, but aren’t enrolled.

To get the subsidy, your resources can’t be more than $12,510 if you’re single or $25,010 if you’re a married couple living together.

Bank accounts, stocks, and bonds count as resources, but homes and cars do not. Beginning this year, life insurance policies don’t count, either.

Also, your annual income can’t be more than $16,245 if you’re single or $21,855 if you’re a married couple living together.

If you support family members who live with you, however, your income can be higher.

And, starting this year, the government won’t count any money you receive from friends or family for household expenses like food, rent, mortgage payments, utilities, and property taxes.

If that sounds like you, give yourself a break and apply.

Or if you have parents or other loved ones who might benefit, reach out to them. Summertime is always a favorite time for families to get together. Sit down with your mother and father and discuss their prescription drug coverage.

Helping them save money on their medicine is one of the best things you can do for them.

There are three ways to sign up:

  • Visit the Social Security Web site, The online application offers step-by-step instructions and lets you work at your own pace.
  • Call Social Security’s toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213, to apply over the phone or request an application. Ask for Form SSA-1020, fill it out and return it by mail.
  • Go to your local Social Security office and request help.

It’s not hard to complete the form. But you’ll need your Social Security number and information about your bank balances, pensions, and investments.

Social Security will review your application and send you a letter within a few weeks letting you know whether you qualify.

When you sign up for the low-income subsidy, Social Security can also help you apply for state-run programs that pay for some of your other Medicare costs.

Those are called Medicare Savings Programs and, depending on your resources and income, they can help cover the out-of-pocket costs for the other parts of Medicare.

Get in touch with Social Security today and start saving.






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