Have You Ever Heard of Chagas Disease?-Boyace Van Harlan Jr., PhD

Have you ever heard of Chagas disease? Apparently, this disease has been around for quite a while. Charles Darwin reportedly died from it. This desease is now being touted as the new AIDS of the Americas.

Chagas disease/ˈʃɑːɡəs/, Portuguese: [ˈʃaɣɐʃ]; Portuguese: doença de Chagas, Spanish: enfermedad de Chagas-Mazza, mal de Chagas in both languages; also called American trypanosomiasis) is a tropical parasitic disease caused by the flagellate protozoan Trypanosoma cruzi. T. cruzi is commonly transmitted to humans and other mammals by an insect vector, the blood-sucking “kissing bugs” of the subfamily Triatominae (family Reduviidae) most commonly species belonging to the Triatoma, Rhodnius, and Panstrongylus genera.[1]

The disease may also be spread through blood transfusion and organ transplantation, ingestion of food contaminated with parasites, and from a mother to her fetus.[2]

The symptoms of Chagas disease vary over the course of an infection. In the early, acute stage, symptoms are mild and usually produce no more than local swelling at the site of infection. The initial acute phase is responsive to antiparasitic treatments, with 60–90% cure rates. After 4–8 weeks, individuals with active infections enter the chronic phase of Chagas disease that is asymptomatic for 60–80% of chronically infected individuals through their lifetime.[3][4][5]

The antiparasitic treatments also appear to delay or prevent the development of disease symptoms during the chronic phase of the disease, but 20–40% of chronically infected individuals will still eventually develop life-threatening heart and digestive system disorders. The currently available antiparasitic treatments for Chagas disease are benznidazole and nifurtimox, which can cause temporary side effects in many patients including skin disorders, brain toxicity, and digestive system irritation.[3][4][5]

Chagas disease is contracted primarily in the Americas, particularly in poor, rural areas of Mexico, Central America, and South America; very rarely, the disease has originated in the Southern United States. The insects that spread the disease are known by various local names, including vinchuca in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile and Paraguay, barbeiro (the barber) in Brazil, pito in Colombia, chinche in Central America, chipo in Venezuela, chupança, chinchorro, and “the kissing bug”.

It is estimated that as many as 11 million people in Mexico, Central America, and South Americahave Chagas disease, most of whom do not know they are infected. Large-scale population movements from rural to urban areas of Latin America and to other regions of the world have increased the geographic distribution of Chagas disease, and cases have been noted in many countries, particularly in Europe.[4][6] Control strategies have mostly focused on eliminating the triatomine insect vector and preventing transmission from other sources.[1]



Watchman Nee- Personal Hero

Watchman Nee Martyr and Personal Hero- Boyace Van Harlan Jr., PhD.

Today marks 40 years since the death of a personal hero and martyr of the church Watchman Nee. His books make up an important part of my personal library and meditation. My prayers today go out for his family and the thousands of Christians who have died in China and worldwide. If only we could glean a portion of their courage and deep faith in our own personal lives.

There have been more than 23 thousand people arrested for their faith inChina. Many died as martyrs who for their unyielding belief in Jesus Christ. Watchman Nee, who became one of those martyrs, led a ministry and life that was a large part of Christianity inChina, as well as other countries. When Nee preached about preserving the truth of the Scriptures he protested aspects of denominational ministries, which in turn led to a temporary excommunication from the church in his hometown. When Communists came to power in the late 1940’s Nee became an obvious target because of his growing Christian ministry and belief, which contradicted that of the Communist Party. In 1952, Nee was arrested for his faith and for his leadership among churches. He was imprisoned in 1956 under a fifteen-year sentence. In the confinement of his cell, Watchman Nee died on May 30, 1972.

Watchman Nee’s ministry and involvement with churches was a big part of Christianity inChina. His books are readily available today in many countries and are frequently used for bible studies. House churches like the “Little Flock” are becoming more prevalent inChinaeveryday. Although he is no longer here, it is clearly evident that Watchman Nee’s legacy still lives.

Watchman Nee was born in Swatow, Fukien province,Chinain 1903.  He was converted at the age of 17.  From the beginning his consecration to the Lord was without reserve.  At age 18 he met Miss M. E. Barber who was a freelance missionary sent by Surrey Chapel,Norwich, a church which owed much to the great Robert Govett.  Miss Barber was to have a meaningful influence on Watchman Nee, first by matured spiritual advice and secondly by introducing him to the best Christian literature; lending him Christian classics.  Watchman Nee was a serious student of the bible, his wanting to see and do God’s will and desire led him to have a Bible rooted ministry.


Beside the Bible, he read unceasingly, especially the classics by the Christian mystics (he translated madame Guyon’s little book on prayer into Chinese), Andrew Murray, Robert Govett, G. H. Pember, D. M. Panton, G. H. Lang, J. Penn-Lewis and others.  He had a large collection of the Brethren writings (J. N. Darby, W. Kelly, C. H. Mackintosh…), he also read Bible expositions, biographies and had an acute knowledge of church history.

In February of 1949 after much prayer and consideration, Watchman Nee made the decision to remain in Shanghai because of his burden for the churches, the co-workers, and the Lord’s testimony on the mainland. On the one hand, he fully trusted in the Lord’s sovereignty; on the other hand, he realized the risk and was prepared to be sacrificed for the Lord’s testimony. In the spring of 1952, he was arrested and imprisoned for his faith; and in the summer of 1956, after a long trial, he was sentenced to fifteen years’ imprisonment. He was, however, never released. During his imprisonment, only his wife was allowed an occasional visit; She passed away on November 7, 1971. His wife’s death was a great sorrow, and it cut him off from any contact with the outside. Not long after her death, on May 30, 1972, Watchman Nee also came to the end of his pilgrimage on this earth and rested with Christ, whom he served at the cost of his life. He left a piece of paper under his pillow, which had several lines of big words written in a shaking hand:


“Christ is the Son of God who died for the redemption of sinners and resurrected after three days. This is the greatest truth in the universe. I die because of my belief in Christ.”


“Christ is the Son of God who died for the redemption of sinners and resurrected after three days. This is the greatest truth in the universe. I die because of my belief in Christ.”

—Watchman Nee


Our Rich Land- Boyace Van Harlan Jr., PhD

Our Rich Land Boyace Van Harlan Jr., PhD

As an American Peace Corps Volunteer I got the wonderful chance to see first hand and up close the reality that American is indeed the richest country on earth. I realized that the poorest of our poor are indeed rich when compared to the rest of the world. We complain about our taxes and quality of life and take it all for granted too often. As we approach Memorial Day I remember all the young men black, brown, yellow, and white who died that we might enjoy.

In an updated study of well-being released Tuesday by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, which promotes economic and social satisfaction, Americans make more money and are slightly more satisfied with their lives, on average, than people in other countries. Average earnings in theU.S. are higher than in many other member countries, although the OECD notes that the gap between rich and poor is relatively high. TheU.S. ranks No. 1 in average household wealth, at $102,000. Only Switzerland comes close, with average household wealth of about $95,000.

The U.S. also got high marks for housing. That ranking looks not just at the quality of housing – including rooms per person and access to indoor plumbing – but also relative cost. On average, Americans spend about 20 percent of their disposable income on housing, a little bit less than the 22 percent average, the index finds. I had always been told that we spent 25%-30%!

TheUnited States also ranks above average in life satisfaction, with 76 percent of people reporting having more positive than negative experiences in an average day. That compares to 72 percent overall in the 34 countries.

But plenty of countries report higher levels of life satisfaction, including Denmark,Norway and Switzerland.



Angiogenesis, Snoring, Cancer is There a Link?- Boyace Van Harlan Jr., PhD

We have known for quite some time that snoring not only irritates bed-partners and literally destroy a relationship it can also be deadly. According to a study out of the University of Wisconsin-Madison obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS) is tied to an increased risk of cancer. The study suggests that people with severe obstructive sleep apnea are almost 5 times more likely to develop cancer than people without apnea. The scientists believe that the prolonged hypoxia seen in these individuals can be a catalyst in the development of cancerous tumors by promoting angiogenesis thus providing a life line to these deadly growths.

Researchers in the US looked at cancer rates in more than 1,500 people, in a study of sleep problems that has been going for 22 years.

They found those with severe sleep disordered breathing (SDB) were 4.8 times more likely to develop cancer than those who had no such problems.

Frenchtown Houston Texas

I grew up as a child in a wonderful community called Frenchtown in Houston Texas. The area has undergone tremendous change over the years but even at its worse I found it to be a wonderful place. Fifty-eight years ago you bought milk in glass gallon jugs. There was no such thing as being ‘lactose intolerant’ and children were given aspirin when they had fever and as a matter of fact ;if they had a physical complaint they were told to go to bed! Some miraculous way we were fine the next day. Our brains did not swell and kill us. Everyone spanked us if we were bad. We learned to work at an early age. Cartoons were funny and if you made it to Disneyland you had the ultimate vacation.

The Fifth Ward is a historical political district (ward) and a community of Houston, Texas, United States, northeast of Downtown. It is bounded by the Buffalo Bayou, Jensen Drive, Liberty Road, and Lockwood Drive.[1]

The Fifth Ward, one of the six wards of Houston, was created partly from two other wards, the First Ward, which ceded the area to the north and east of White Oak Bayou and Little White Oak Bayou, and the Second Ward, which ceded all land within the Houston city limits to the north of Buffalo Bayou.

After the American Civil War, newly freed slaves (freemen) began settling in the sparsely settled area. In 1866, it became the Fifth Ward and an alderman from the ward was elected to Houston’s City Council. By the mid-1880s, it was virtually all black, home to working class people who made their livings in Houston’s eastside ship channel and industrial areas or as domestics for wealthy Houstonians. Mount Vernon United Methodist Church, founded in 1865 by a former slave, is the oldest church in the ward. Five other churches are over a hundred years old. Also home to the famous “Island of Hope (Anderson Memorial Temple) COGIC” the oldest Pentecostal church in Fifth Ward. Over the years it had been home to the city’s minority and immigrant population. Although it had been a mostly black area, Latinos, Filipino Americans, Pakistani Americans, and Italian Catholics also moved there.[citation needed]

On February 21, 1912, with stiff Northern winds blowing in, the largest fire in Houston’s history began. This fire became known as the Great Fifth Ward Fire. The strong winds spread the fire as embers set wood-shingled roofs on fire. It consumed a church, school, 13 industrial plants, eight stores, and 119 homes, mostly located in the Fifth Ward. There were no deaths, but there was over $3 million in property damage.[2]

Before desegregation the community housed African-Americans of all occupations and income levels. The community was known as the “bloody Fifth” because of some highly publicized violent incidents in the neighborhood; Michael Berryhill of the Houston Press stated that the Fifth Ward was not as blighted in the 1940s as it was during the 1990s.[3] Robb Walsh of the Houston Press described the 1930s era Fifth Ward as “one of the proudest black neighborhoods” in the United States; more than 40 black-owned businesses were along Lyons Avenue in the Fifth Ward at that time.[4]

Desegregation lead to middle class African-Americans moving to the suburbs.[3] By the 1970s the Fifth Ward lost a significant part of its population, and many houses were boarded-up. Many area businesses were vacant and the area had many vacant lots with overgrown plants.[4] In the 1970s and 1980s the Fifth Ward became notorious throughout Houston for the violence perpetrated in the community.[5] Ernest McMillan, a community activist and contributor to the Fifth Ward Enrichment Program, said in a 1987 Houston Chronicle article that “One of the differences between this neighborhood and one like River Oaks is that they have lots of support and all kinds of resources available. Here in the Fifth Ward it’s the exact opposite: These people have no resources at all. There’s one clinic, one library, no YMCA, very few activities, and the community is very fragmented. It’s not the kind of environment that helps a child excel.”[6]

Between 1990 and 2000 the Hispanic population of the Fifth Ward increased from around 19% of the population to around 31%.[7] In 2000 the median annual income was $8,900. 62% of its residents lived below the poverty line. 9 of 10 school-aged children qualified for free or reduced lunches. The commercial streets had several empty buildings and vacant lots. Lisa Gray, a journalist in the Houston Press, stated in a 2000 article that the existing businesses “run mostly to dingy mom-and-pop operations, grim little grocery stores and cheerless liquor stores. There’s no McDonald’s, no Fiesta, no Target, no Wal-Mart. It’s turf where national chains fear to tread.” Gray added that the words “new” and “nice” were not often associated with the Fifth Ward, while “at-risk,” “crime,” and “poverty,” were.[8] Walsh said that the Fifth Ward in 2002 was “in much better shape” than it was in the 1970s; he added that while the Fifth Ward is “hardly a garden spot,” the Fifth Ward Community Redevelopment Corporation took many steps to improve the community including assisting low income borrowers in finding loans, encouraging artchitects to develop “innovative designs” for low income housing, and bringing commercial building projects into the Fifth Ward.[9]

Japhet, a section of the Fifth Ward at Emile Street at Clinton Drive (two blocks east of Hirsch Road/Waco Street), was the Houston Press 2004 “Best Hidden Neighborhood.” The article stated “Say the words “Fifth Ward” to most Houstonians, and they’ll think crime, poverty and desperation.” The article added that Japhet is “more like a village than anything else — fragrant organic gardens are everywhere, bursting with vegetables, fruits and flowers, and the whole neighborhood comes together for a big party every full moon.”[10]

Lisa Gray, a journalist for the Houston Press, stated in a 2000 article that the Fifth Ward has an overall sense of history and a “small-scale, deep-rooted personal history, the way that, in the middle of the city, lives are intertwined in a small-town way.” Many families from the area had lived in the Fifth Ward for several generations.[8]

In previous eras, African-Americans of all social classes lived in the Fifth Ward; African American professionals patronized businesses. After the end of segregation, African-American professionals began to patronize other neighborhoods, and members of the African American middle class moved out of the Fifth Ward.[32]

In 1922, a group of Louisiana Creoles organized the Fifth Ward community of “Frenchtown,” which contained a largely Roman Catholic and Creole culture. When new residents no longer resided in Frenchtown, the neighborhood culturally merged with the greater Fifth Ward.[33] The community was about four square blocks.[34] The Our Mother of Mercy Catholic Church, completed in 1930 by Creoles for Creoles, serves as a social center for the neighborhood.[35] The Houston Press described the Continental Zydeco Ballroom at 3101 Collingsworth as serving as the “Saturday-night focal point” for Frenchtown for several decades.[36] Throughout its history, Frenchtown had narrow streets and a lack of sidewalks, complicating the riding of bicycles.[22] Around the 1950s young women from Frenchtown rarely married outside of the community.[34]

In 2002 Mike Snyder and Matt Schwarz of the Houston Chronicle said that Frenchtown was “scarred by decades of deterioration and neglect.” The neighborhood had deteriorating houses that had been abandoned for years, vacant lots with high weeds, and a malfunctioning drainage system that resulted in standing rain. Snyder and Schwartz wrote that the issues “create health and safety hazards and lend the neighborhood a bleak, desolate appearance that discourages private investment and prompts many residents to leave when they can.” By that year many Frenchtown residents began to distrust city officials. Frank Broussard, the head of the Frenchtown Association, said that the neighborhood needed new streets and adequate drainage and that the vacant lots needed to be dealt with. Snyder and Schwartz also said that “what distinguishes neighborhoods such as Frenchtown is chronic problems with basic infrastructure and services that contribute to blight and often lead to declining property values and dwindling population.”[22]

Adverse Effects of Medication

Warning Label Adherence – Boyace Van Harlan Jr., PhD



When patients improperly use medications they unknowingly participate in the biggest factor in adverse effect of pharmaceuticals. Warning label adherence is a vitally important factor in determining whether or not a patient will have adverse effects to medication. There are other factors as well that contribute. An illiterate, unable to read dosing instructions, may rely on their memory of their doctor’s dosing instruction. The results can be fatal if the patient remembers the verbal instructions incorrectly. Our perception is our ultimate reality whether true or not. Doctors often mistakenly believe a patient clearly understands medical terms when explaining dosing instructions or warnings to the patient. A patient may be overwhelmed or embarrassed to admit their ignorance and may pretend that they understand clearly. This means that when a patient goes home, they may guess at how to take the medication- with potentially deadly results if the patient guesses wrongly. Because of these factors among many others it is difficult to determine if an adverse effect is due to improper communication or patient error or if an adverse effect is truly caused by the drug itself and warrants an FDA-approved warning.

Benefits of Message Therapy- Boyace Van Harlan Jr., PhD

About 14 years ago I was diagnosed with Diabetes. I had experienced significant weight loss and had my main complaint was frequent urination and early signs of peripheral neuropathy. I had so much pain in my feet I could barely walk. That was 14 years ago! I am now doing great. I owe my improvement to a life of meditation, contemplation and fervent prayer. I have an awesome physician and benefit from frequent check-ups, proper medication, and message therapy. In this post I would like to list some of the many benefits of message therapy.

Experts estimate that upwards of ninety percent of disease is stress related. And perhaps nothing ages us faster, internally and externally, than high stress. While eliminating anxiety and pressure altogether in this fast-paced world may be idealistic, massage can, without a doubt, help manage stress. This translates into:

  • Decreased anxiety.
  • Enhanced sleep quality.
  • Greater energy.
  • Improved concentration.
  • Increased circulation.
  • Reduced fatigue.

Profound Effects
In response to massage, specific physiological and chemical changes cascade throughout the body, with profound effects. Research shows that with massage:

  • Arthritis sufferers note fewer aches and less stiffness and pain.
  • Asthmatic children show better pulmonary function and increased peak air flow.
  • Burn injury patients report reduced pain, itching, and anxiety.
  • High blood pressure patients demonstrate lower diastolic blood pressure, anxiety, and stress hormones.
  • Premenstrual syndrome sufferers have decreased water retention and cramping.
  • Preterm infants have improved weight gain.

Research continues to show the enormous benefits of touch—which range from treating chronic diseases, neurological disorders, and injuries, to alleviating the tensions of modern lifestyles. Consequently, the medical community is actively embracing bodywork, and massage is becoming an integral part of hospice care and neonatal intensive care units. Many hospitals are also incorporating on-site massage practitioners and even spas to treat postsurgery or pain patients as part of the recovery process.

The Benefits Of Massage
What exactly are the benefits of receiving massage or bodywork treatments? Useful for all of the conditions listed below and more, massage can:

  • Alleviate low-back pain and improve range of motion.
  • Assist with shorter, easier labor for expectant mothers and shorten maternity hospital stays.
  • Ease medication dependence.
  • Enhance immunity by stimulating lymph flow—the body’s natural defense system.
  • Exercise and stretch weak, tight, or atrophied muscles.
  • Help athletes of any level prepare for, and recover from, strenuous workouts.
  • Improve the condition of the body’s largest organ—the skin.
  • Increase joint flexibility.
  • Lessen depression and anxiety.
  • Promote tissue regeneration, reducing scar tissue and stretch marks.
  • Pump oxygen and nutrients into tissues and vital organs, improving circulation.
  • Reduce postsurgery adhesions and swelling.
  • Reduce spasms and cramping.
  • Relax and soften injured, tired, and overused muscles.
  • Release endorphins—amino acids that work as the body’s natural painkiller.
  • Relieve migraine pain.