American Native Health Issues

My great great grandmother

My great grandmother

My grandmother

My mother and me

My daughter Jenny

Six Generations


The differences between Native or Indigenous People

and Non-Natives become clearly evident in our Health Issues.


In my own family there are several dominant illnesses

which are also quite common among most Native People,

Diabetes, High Blood Pressure and Heart disease,

most commonly Congestive Heart Failure.


Native People suffer from a myriad of other illnesses:

Bipolar Disorder, Chronic Obesity, Crippling Arthritis,

Depression, Lactose Intolerance and the

extraordinarily painful, debilitating, Fibromyalgia.

Other Health conditions that we share are: Chemical,

Drug and Alcohol intolerance, Jaw Displacement,

Migraine headaches, severe insect reactions and Dyslexia.


A critical difference between Native and Non-Natives

is our reaction to anesthetics during surgery.

Some of us have a very difficult time waking up, or may

exhibit what can be considered unusual behavior in recovery.

 Frequently when we finally do begin to come around,

we are often quite nauseous much longer than others.

These reactions to the drugs used during surgery are

just another example of our lack of tolerance to chemicals.

If you are going into surgery, please make your doctor aware

of your race and that complications could occur because of it.


 Diabetes, which has been linked to obesity,

 can bring serious complications with vision,

 as well as life threatening circulation problems.

If you have it, please do not do as my grandmother did,

she ignored her Doctor and cheated on her diet

frequently with the expected consequences.


In many cases, our chronic obesity is related to poor

food choices, lack of exercise and a little DNA.

Over 30 percent of Native people are obese.


The highest incidence of chronic obesity in Natives still remains

with those living on Reservations whose limited access

to healthy food sources and proper Health care,

makes staying fit nearly impossible.

High unemployment, drug or alcohol dependency and the

resultant Depression only exacerbates the situation.


My negative reaction to food additives/chemicals

 like MSG, Maltodextrin and other artificial sweeteners,

may not be a Native problem, but it is one

that has plagued me for many years.

These chemicals commonly added to our food,

will guarantee me a Migraine within hours every time

that I eat a food they have been added to.

I never really thought about them much until after suffering

from Migraines for years, someone told me to stop

drinking anything with artificial sweeteners in it.

I did and the headaches went away nearly instantly.

Since then I have had very few headaches until recently,

when I learned that MSG can also cause them.

I started reading food labels after that and eliminated MSG from my life.

Now there are new ones like Maltodextrin which is added to so

many things today, that it is difficult to find food without it.

These artificial sweeteners/additives/chemicals, may not bother

other people, but they give me terrible headaches, upset stomachs

 and other digestive problems nearly instantly.

If I learn from other Native people that they are bothered by

these food additives as well, I will post it here.


Until I used a computer I had no idea that I was dyslexic.

When you write with a pen, your brain has time to make corrections,

but when you are typing on a keyboard and not looking

at your writing, it cannot make these corrections.

What you end up with, like I do, is a page full

of words with the middle letters reversed.


Many Native children are born with extra teeth,

as mine were, which most likely will need to be

removed and braces used to fix the remaining ones.


Lazy eye, another common Native affliction,

which can cause some nasty headaches,

can be helped with a series of exercises.

My daughter and I both have this.

A good Optometrist pointed out that this was

the cause of our failure to stay awake when reading.

It seems that our eyes/brain get so tired of trying to

focus on the writing, that it just puts us to sleep.

Which it always does.


Natives also have an extra bone in their feet.

My feet were x-rayed when I was a child and the Doctor

told my mother something was wrong with me,

that I had a bone that didn't belong where it was.

He had no idea and neither did we, that most Native

people have this extra bone in their feet.


Shoes can be challenging if you have very high arches, as I do.

Bone spurs are common and may require surgery.

Foot problems can be ongoing, our feet

it would seem, were never meant to be in shoes.

The most serious Foot problems are related to Diabetes.


Although these conditions and diseases do not solely

affect American Native People, we do seem to

carry the heavy end of the burden.


Many of our friends and family have one or more of these

Health Issues, which can often be stressful and/or depressing.

Having multiple health afflictions is very tiresome,

especially for children and the Elders.


Quite often when Natives who live off Reservations,

go to see a Doctor, they fail to mention their Native Heritage.

This omission can hinder Health Histories, which are critical

to the Doctor being able to make an accurate diagnosis.


Some Doctors are now beginning to be aware of these

Native Disease links and can help with more targeted,

specific diagnosis and treatment plans.


But when neither the patient, nor the Doctor are aware,

it can lead to years of painful suffering, often needlessly.


My daughter suffered for months during the first year of her life

because we did not know that she was lactose intolerant.

Neither we, nor her Pediatrician, knew about the Native link to

this condition which caused her reactions to Dairy products.

Now we know that she, like many Native children was lactose intolerant.


Something new to add to this page of Health Issues just recently discovered.

I am allergic to strawberries.

For the past few months I have been adding strawberries to a blender drink

that I have every morning, they came in the bag of frozen assorted fruits,

so I thought they would be a good healthy addition.

Not so fast.

I noticed that a small cluster of red blotches had developed on my left cheek,

but did not put it together,

Until about a week ago, I read that some people react to strawberries with skin rashes.


Stopped putting them in the drink about a week ago and surprise, the rash is all gone.

What I learned is this.

My body seems to reject nearly every food that is not native to this country.

It is said that there were native wild strawberries growing in Virginia, but the ones we can

buy at the store are not those same strawberries and this may be part of my problem?



So, what can we do to help ourselves, our loved ones and our friends?

It is really so simple.


Make those close to you or who care for you aware of your Native Heritage.

It might be advisable to wear a health alert bracelet in

some severe cases where time in treatment is critical.


Read books, learn to Google, talk to people, ask questions of

your Doctors, friends and relatives, educate yourself about

these Diseases that affect us as a Race.

The more we know, the more we can do to prevent complications

from our own particular group of Native Health Issues

and help us to take better care of ourselves.


March 27, 2012

We Have Always Done It The Natural Way

This news is not news to Native people, but it is nice to have another

reason to say "I told you so" to non Natives once again.

This story shows what we have always known, that Native people

 have been using so called "natural medicines" since the beginning of time.

A great story and one to show to your children when or if, they doubt that

their ancestors are a race of which they can be truly proud.

Rediscovered Native American Remedy Kills Pox Virus



The links below are to Native Health Organizations and

care givers who offer services specifically for Native People.


A Clinical Report on the Prevention
and Treatment of Diabetes in Children

American Academy of Pediatrics


Association of American Indian Physicians



Native Americans and Diabetes

American Diabetes Association


Special Populations: American Indians and Alaskan Natives

Health Finder


Native American Health

A great list of web resources for Native Health.

Healthy NJ


Native American Specific Links

HIV Center of Excellence


This is the main page for this Government Agency

at the US Department of Health and Human Services.

Indian Health Service


Cancer Center at Mayo Clinic

Native Circle


Heart Fact Sheet



National Indian Child Welfare Association



National Indian Health Board



National Indian Women's Health Resource Center



American Indian Resource Center for
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services

One Sky Center


 Click on me to send an email





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