Browse Tag


11 mins read

Revolutionizing Cancer Care: The Innovative Approach of A28 Therapeutics

Dr. Stanley Lewis is the founder and CEO of A28 Therapeutics, a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on the development of its targeted lytic peptide platform for the treatment of cancer.

In this interview, Dr. Lewis discusses his inspiration for starting A28 Therapeutics, the company’s focus on targeted oncolytic peptides (TOPs), and the promise of AT-101 in the treatment of metastatic ovarian cancer with liver metastases and hepatocellular carcinoma. 

He also shares his advice for aspiring entrepreneurs and researchers looking to make a significant impact in the field of healthcare and biotechnology.

Can you tell us a bit about your background and what inspired you to start A28 Therapeutics?

I am an internal medicine physician by training. I graduated from the University of Texas McGovern Medical School in Houston and obtained a master’s degree in public health. After completing my internship, residency, and fellowship, I joined the faculty of the medical school in the Department of Internal Medicine. 

As an academic physician, I saw patients, taught students and residents, and conducted dozens of clinical trials. My area of interest was HIV/AIDS, and in my practice, I cared for mostly indigent patients in the Houston area. I was recruited from academia to join a small biotech company and lead a program for the development of a new treatment for HIV.  After quite a few twists and turns, we were fortunate to earn FDA approval for TROGARZO, the first long-acting medication for the treatment of multi-drug resistant HIV disease.

There are several reasons for founding A28 Therapeutics. First, I really take the Hippocratic Oath seriously. In particular, the commitment to “First, do no harm” really guides me. During those early days of treating HIV patients, the medicines were very difficult to tolerate.

I felt terrible that my patients had the unenviable choice of taking some very toxic medications to control the virus or not taking the medicines and dying of AIDS. This was the primary reason I agreed to develop TROGARZO as my clinical trial patients commented that it was perhaps the most tolerable medicine they had ever taken. 

In many ways, I see current cancer patients having to face a similar dilemma as they weigh the risks and benefits of enduring toxic chemotherapies in exchange for a few more months of life. At A28 Therapeutics, we want to change that. Our vision is a world where patients no longer fear cancer or its treatments.

My second reason for starting the company is rooted in the type of molecules we develop. Interestingly, cancer and infectious diseases have a lot in common. In particular, bacteria have negatively charged cell walls and have been treated with lytic peptides such as vancomycin for decades. In fact, your body makes lytic peptides as part of the immune system. Well, cancer cells are also negatively charged; so, why not treat them with lytic peptides? 

In many ways, our molecules are like antibiotics that have been retooled to treat cancer. I appreciated their unique mechanism of eliminating cancer and their remarkable tolerability. To me, lytic peptides are just what the infectious disease doctor ordered.  Hopefully, soon, lytic peptides will be just what the oncologist orders.

My final reason for founding this company is deeply personal. My father died of metastatic gastric cancer. It was his dream that his son become a doctor, but before I could graduate, he died of this terrible disease. Like many solid tumors, gastric cancer can be cured surgically if you can diagnose it early before it spreads. However, when my father was diagnosed, his tumor had spread to his liver, and he was only given three months to live. 

The medications we are developing at A28 have an interesting biodistribution pattern such that they accumulate and persist in the liver for three days. This high exposure in liver tissue is believed to make them particularly useful in patients who have cancer that has metastasized to the liver or originates in this organ. So, when I had the opportunity to develop a drug that could help people who, like my father, had metastatic disease to their liver, I knew that I hadn’t found this medication, it found me.

A28 Therapeutics is known for its focus on targeted oncolytic peptides (TOPs) for cancer treatment. Could you explain the concept of TOPs and what differentiates them from traditional cancer therapies?

Targeted Oncolytic Peptides are a combination of a hormone-targeting unit and a lytic peptide payload. Our first molecule, AT-101, is a 10-amino acid hormone (luteinizing hormone releasing hormone – LHRH) targeting unit combined with a highly positively charged 18-amino acid lytic peptide payload.  The LHRH hormone targeting unit binds to hormone receptors found on the surface of a myriad of different tumor types. This binding brings the positively charged lytic peptide in proximity to the negatively charged cancer cell membrane resulting in a disruption of the membrane and killing of the tumor cell.  An animation of this mechanism can be viewed on the website.

Healthy cells do not have a strong negative charge and therefore are not harmed by this medication. The most noteworthy side effect observed through Phase 2 clinical trials with AT-101 is a transient, treatable rash. Another feature that differentiates our lead compound from traditional chemotherapies is that the killing of tumor cells by lytic peptides causes the tumor cell to release its antigens. This type of cancer cell death alerts the immune system much like a vaccine allowing for amplification of cancer killing throughout the body.

Finally, in laboratory testing, AT-101 synergies with all manner of chemotherapy and newer immunotherapies and may even resensitize resistant tumor cells to chemotherapies that have stopped working.  When you think about all the ways you would want cancer therapy to work, AT-101 really has it all.

What motivated you to concentrate on developing AT-101, and how has it shown promise in the treatment of metastatic ovarian cancer with liver metastases and hepatocellular carcinoma?

For a variety of reasons, most solid tumors metastasize to the liver, and patients with liver metastases invariably have shorter life expectancy than patients without liver metastases. In addition to being remarkably well tolerated, in a retrospective analysis of the Phase 2 study, the subset of patients with metastatic ovarian cancer and liver metastases who received AT-101 plus paclitaxel (standard of care chemotherapy) vs paclitaxel alone, the AT-101 treated patients experienced a 61% increase in overall survival. 

We want to confirm this observation prospectively in our next trial. Additionally, we plan to test AT-101 in hepatocellular (liver) cancer because the molecule achieves high and prolonged concentrations in the liver allowing for potentially high anticancer activity.

What have been the most significant milestones or achievements for A28 Therapeutics thus far in its mission to transform cancer care?

A28 Therapeutics was recognized as a 2023 Cool Company by Connect San Diego.  This award is bestowed on companies considered to be the fastest and most exciting startups in Southern California.

What are the company’s top priorities for the next 12-18 months?

We are seeking to raise a $20M Series A round of financing to prospectively validate the retrospectively observed efficacy signal from the Phase 2 clinical trial. Our next trial is a 2-stage adaptive trial design. The first stage will confirm the efficacy signal, and the second stage will expand to a sufficient number of patients to support an application for accelerated approval.

What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs and researchers looking to make a significant impact in the field of healthcare and biotechnology?

The most important thing I’ve learned is that there is no blueprint for this stuff. You must have integrity because lives depend on your honest and thoughtful assessments of data. 

You must be resilient because things will not always go as planned. You must be patient as it will always take longer and cost more than you expect. You should build a strong network because this is not something you can do alone.

And finally, it helps if you are passionate about your work. You will need this to drive and sustain you on this journey.

by Tony O. Lawson

1 min read

Sea Moss Health Benefits | Black Owned Sea Moss Brand

Chondrus crispus, also known as sea moss, is a sea plant that has been utilized in Ireland and Jamaica for decades. A gel form of the plant is commonly added to food and beverages, citing its healing and health-enhancing properties.

It is rich in vitamins and minerals, including A, C, and E, as well as minerals. Sea moss has also been demonstrated to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, making it beneficial for treating conditions such as arthritis and asthma.

Iodine, carotene, and sulfur-containing compounds can all be found in sea moss. The potassium, calcium, selenium, magnesium, manganese, and iron found in sea moss are among the reasons it is consumed.

If you’re interested in trying sea moss, check out the Black-owned business called The Transformation Factory.

sea moss

The Transformation Factory was founded by Alexiou Gibson. Weighing in at over 500 lbs. at 21 years of age, he was inspired to live a healthier life after his physician told him that he would not live to see thirty.

In an interview with us, Alexiou shared his transformation story and his experience landing a $600K deal on Shark Tank.

sea moss
The Transformation Factory founder Alexiou Gibson accepts offer from Mark Cuban and Kevin Hart on ABC’s Shark Tank to expand health supplement product. (Photo Credit: ABC/Christopher Willard)


Get 10% off with code SBLK10


4 mins read

Sextech: The $37 Billion Sexual Wellness & Education Industry That No One is Talking About

The sex technology or sextech industry has grown rapidly in recent years, with a lot more growth predicted in coming years.

According to Statista, the sexual wellness market was valued at $26 billion in 2017 and is forecasted to reach about $37.2 billion by 2023.

The sextech market does not gain as much attention as other tech sectors such as fintech, robotics, AI, etc. This is most likely due to the taboo and stigma attached to the term.

Let’s find out how the sextech industry is revolutionizing sexual and wellness education and experience.

What Is Sextech?

Wikipedia describes sextech as “Sex technology is a technology and technology-driven ventures that are designed to enhance, innovate, and disrupt human sexuality or the human sexual experience.”

In simpler terms, sex technology is more than just sex robots. Entrepreneurs are coming up with brilliant and innovative ideas to apply sextech in sexual education, spreading awareness about good sexual practices.

Information about attitudes and sexual wellness is being made mainstream and accessible through this, too. There are quite a few smart ventures coming along to make that happen. 

Why Is Sextech Booming?

The sexual wellness market is booming at a rapid pace. According to the Sexual Wellness Market – Global Outlook & Forecast 2021-2026, the market is expected to reach USD 45.05 billion by 2026, growing at a CAGR of 7.83%. This report highlights the following factors to be the main contributors to the market development

  • Increased digital marketplace penetration
  • Increasing usage of dating applications in the APAC region
  • Growth promoted by sexual wellness festivals, trade shows, and expos
  • Increase in government initiatives to distribute free contraceptives

These are not the only reasons behind the growth of the industry. Millennials and Gen Z are much more open to sexual conversations and preferences. They have indeed grown up with pornography as the primary source of sexual education, but they are much more open to exploring new avenues and prioritizing sexual wellness.

Industry Trends

Sexual Wellness

One of the most promising areas the sextech industry is opening is sexual wellness as a lifestyle. Quite a few prominent names are taking this avenue.

Sexual Education & Good Practice Cultivation

Millennials and Gen Z rarely had healthy sexual education alternatives other than porn because there were sexual education initiatives in schools or conversations by adults around them, albeit nascent. Cindy Gallop, founder and CEO of MakeLoveNotPorn took a brilliant initiative to mainstream content to promote consent, good sexual values, and attitudes.

Sexual Experience

The sextech industry is also promoting the option to explore more ways to enhance the sexual experience for everyone, including people with disabilities. 

Sexual technology is providing a lot of options for better accessibility to real-world sexual education and sexual wellness products or services as well as information about good sexual practices, and behaviors.

The industry is finding an increasingly large consumer base. Investors are not as hesitant about investing in this sector. Therefore, the sector is picking up pace and is expected to expand rapidly.

4 mins read

5 Tips on How You Can Maintain and Improve Your Gut Health

Did you know that more than half of your body’s immune system lies in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract? Clearly, your gut health is closely linked to your overall health and wellbeing. But, what exactly does it mean when people talk about a healthy gut?

Your gut is filled with microorganisms like good bacteria and yeast which promote healthy digestion. An imbalance in this gut microbiota can cause several gastrointestinal conditions, including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), negatively affect your immune system, and even result in obesity, type 2 diabetes, and atopy.

So, maintaining the balance of small bacteria and other microorganisms that live in your digestive tract is crucial to ensuring your physical, mental, and immune health.

Top Tips on How to Maintain Gut Health

Exercise, Exercise, & Exercise

gut health

Engaging in any kind of physical activity keeps your colon healthy and ensures regular and clear bowel movements.

As per the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, adults should engage in at least 150 minutes of moderately intense physical activity each week.

They should also make muscle-strengthening exercises a part of their weekly exercise regimen. This is more so important for people who are prone to serious digestive issues such as irritable bowel syndrome.

Shift to a Nutrient-Rich Diet

gut health

The kind of food people eat can directly impact their gut. Ideally, you should consume smaller, more frequent meals. This can prevent the GI tract from getting overwhelmed.

Eating a balanced diet that includes all the necessary nutrients is directly linked to a happy gut. Try including the following food items in your diet:

  • Fresh, Unprocessed, and Clean Food
  • Mixed Diets Lead to the Growth of Diverse Microbiomes in the Gut
  • Fiber-Rich Vegetables, Legumes, and Fruits, Such as Raspberries, Green Peas, Broccoli, Chickpeas, Artichoke, Lentils, Banana, Beans, Apples, and More
  • Food Rich in Polyphenols, Such as Cocoa and Dark Chocolate, Red Wine, Grape Skins, Green Tea, Almonds, and Blueberries

Remember to eat at least 25 grams of fiber a day. You also need to chew your food thoroughly to make it easier for your digestive system to process. Additionally, make sure to drink at least eight glasses of water a day to keep the body hydrated.

Probiotic Supplements

Probiotics are known for their ability to reduce symptoms of certain medical conditions, boost immune health, improve depressive symptoms, and even promote weight loss. They also encourage the growth of good bacteria in your gut.

Probiotic and fermented food like yogurt, kefir, kimchi, tempeh, kombucha, and fresh sauerkraut must be a part of your everyday diet. Alternatively, you can also choose to consume high-quality probiotic supplements, such as Problk Health’s Gut Reaction – Probiotic Advanced Formula, to effectively improve your gut health.

Manage Your Stress Levels

Your stress levels and gut health can be directly proportional to each other. The more stressed you are, the more negatively it will impact gut health. This is why embracing an active lifestyle—complete with yoga, therapy, meditation, and journaling—is key to not just your gut health, but your overall physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing.

Limit the alcohol and caffeine intake

Both caffeine and alcohol act as digestive stimulants and can disrupt the digestive process. So, limit their intake for a healthy gut.

Maintaining your gut health should be an integral part of your healthcare regime. The team at Problk Health Vitamins will gladly help you find the right probiotic supplements to ensure a healthy gut and body.

To learn more about Problk Health Vitamins, visit their website and get 15% off Your first order using code “shoppeblack”

6 mins read

This Couple Started a Vitamin Business to Reduce Vitamin Deficiency in the Black Community

Problk Health Vitamins is a doctor and veteran-owned health company on a mission to improve health and wellness in the Black community.

The Atlanta-based business was started by husband and wife team Dr. Karleena Tuggle-McDaniel and Darian McDaniel. Both HBCU grads (Howard Medical School and Morehouse College) decided that in order to promote healing in the Black community, they would have to be the change they wanted to see.

We caught up with Problk Health Vitamins co-founder Dr. Karleena Tuggle-McDaniel to find out more.

Problk Health
Dr. Karleena Tuggle-McDaniel

What inspired you to start Problk Health Vitamins?

(Dr. K) If we could boil down this answer into two words, they would be ‘need’, and ‘purpose’. The need being that I have trained, worked in, and served majority Black communities for over 20 years.

Whether it be New York where I was raised, D.C. where I received my education, or Atlanta where I settled and now practice, a common theme that I see almost daily is that Black people do not focus on preventative care.

We are young in age and old in disease while being plagued with illnesses that are often preventable if addressed before progressing to more harmful stages. We do not prioritize our most valuable asset which is our health. 92% of Black people have at least one vitamin deficiency.

After watching an episode of Shark Tank where a company was highlighted that donated a percentage of its profits from the sales of beach towels to benefit marine life, we thought if they could do that for fish, imagine what we could do for Black people.

The purpose is that Darian and I wanted to have a passion project or leave a legacy that would outlive us and benefit the Black community for generations to come.

The combination of these factors helped shape our vision were educating and providing vitamins for people both helps the individual’s health, and the health of the community by donating 50% of the net profits to non-profit organizations that work on improving the health in the Black Community.

Problk Health


How does your vitamin company differ from those that already exist?

We use the highest quality ingredients to create our premium vitamins and supplements. We make a conscious effort to use select formulas that fill the most nutrient gaps for our customers.

Problk Health Vitamins also donates 50% of its net profits to non-profit organizations that have missions that focus on irradicating health disparities in the Black Community.

It’s a win-win scenario that most people should be able to get behind. We often like to ask people, “Does your current vitamin give back to the community?” We have yet to hear ‘yes’ as a response.


Describe your individual personalities and how you fuse them to make the business work.

Darian is the strategic, business marketing guru that is the key to catapulting our growth. He is moved more by logic than emotion which helps us to choose the most appropriate and beneficial partnerships. He is a genius at curating the brand from aesthetic details to scaling opportunities.

I, on the other hand, am a way more emotional person. Much of my passion or zeal for this endeavor is my daily encounters with people who look like me or someone I love who is suffering from preventable illness or haunted by suboptimal lifestyle choices that result in inferior health.

I wholeheartedly believe that part of living our best lives is harnessing and enhancing our health to truly maximize our potential, longevity, and happiness. Together we are like the Wonder Twins cartoon from back in the day that can adapt to any obstacle or situation. It works to be able to see things from different perspectives.

Problk Health
Dr. Karleena Tuggle-McDaniel and Darian McDaniel.

Where do you see the company in 5 years?

In 5 years we hope to be a well-respected household name that is synonymous with quality vitamins and supplements, education and community give back.

We want to potentially have mobile health vans that can visit different neighborhoods, fostering the idea of prioritizing our health through healthy habits and preventative care.

We would like to grow the business to the point that we are able to donate millions of dollars in support of nurturing our people and the communities we come from. The sky is the limit, and Black people need to enlighten and improve their health more so than ever.

To learn more about Problk Health Vitamins, visit their website and get 15% off Your first order using code “shoppeblack”

5 mins read

A Five-Step Skincare Routine Guide For Beginners

If you’re not into skincare yet, it’s time to step up your personal care. A consistent skincare routine helps keep your skin happy and healthy, and it’s the perfect excuse to show yourself some much-needed TLC two times a day.

Everyone’s skin is different, so naturally, every skincare routine will be unique to the individual. However, every skincare regime should consist of the most basic steps that you’ll learn about below. So, if you’re ready to take your self-care to the next level, here’s a step-by-step guide to creating a simple skincare routine.

Step 1: Cleanser

Cleansing your skin helps eliminate dirt, sweat, and other impurities that rest on your face and clog your pores. If all else fails in your skincare routine, this step is the most important. You can pick out the right skincare for yourself by assessing your skin type (oily, dry, or normal) and your skin concerns.

How often should I cleanse my face?

You should cleanse your face at least twice a day, once in the morning and then again at night. If you’re active, be sure to wash your face immediately following a workout to cleanse the skin of sweat and other dirt.

 Step 2: Toner

Toners are liquid-based products that can help tighten the pores, exfoliate the skin, and provide additional cleaning. Some skincare experts say this step isn’t essential, but toners come in handy for giving the skin some additional nutrients.

How often should I apply toner?

Always apply your toner after cleansing your skin and before applying serums. Usually, toners are best used by soaking a cotton pad or ball with the product and then gently spreading the product over the face.

 Step 3: Serums

Time for the fun part! Think of serums as the “treatment” part of your skincare routine because these powerful products directly target the skin’s concerns by deeply penetrating the skin.

When do I apply serums?

Every serum is uniquely made to address everyday skincare problems, so it’s best to read the bottle for instructions. In addition, some serums require night-use only or morning, so it’s crucial to follow the directions on the package to make sure your serums are working for you and not against you.

Step 4: Moisturizer

Depending on the time of day, this is your final step in a basic skincare regimen. Applying your moisturizer at the end of your routine helps keep your skin hydrated and supple.

When do I apply moisturizer?

You should use a moisturizer every time you cleanse your skin. Light moisturizers are great for daily use, but you can opt for thicker creams for the nighttime.

Step 5: SPF

Contrary to popular belief, those of us with dark skin are still vulnerable to the sun’s harmful UV rays. Therefore, it’s crucial for everyone to wear sunscreen daily, whether it’s cloudy or sunny out. The sun can cause premature aging, wrinkles, and, even worse, skin cancer. So, the secret to keeping your melanin poppin’ is slathering on the SPF!

When do I apply SPF?

Apply your SPF in the morning as the final step of your skincare routine. If you wear makeup, your SPF goes on before you start makeup application. Squeeze a generous amount, and apply two fingers (index finger and pointer finger) worth of sunscreen to both your face and neck.

Ready to get your skincare TLC on? Well, now you know exactly where to start, and you can continue to build on your routine from here. Happy skincare!


Use code SHOPPEBLK for a FREE sampler pack of several different herbal soaps from Herb’N Eden

1 min read

Black Owned Oral Hygiene Brands You Should Know

The global oral hygiene market is projected to reach $53.3 billion by 2025 from $44.5 billion in 2019, at an annual growth rate of 3.0%.

The growth in this market is driven by rising awareness about oral hygiene, growing incidences of dental diseases, and technological advancements in oral care products.

Online purchases of products are a key trend in this market due to the emergence of eCommerce platforms and the high accessibility they offer. Here’s a list of Black 0wned oral hygiene brands you can support now and going forward.

Black Owned Oral Hygiene Brands

Go Natural!

Dirt Don’t Hurt Me


The Shea Shack 


Twiggy Fresh Bamboo Toothbrush

Natty Naturals

Illuminate Essentials


➡️ Promote your business

➡️Want to invest in Black-owned businesses? Please complete this brief form.

1 min read

Black Owned Yoga Studios You Should Know

Regular yoga practice has been shown to have tremendous physical, mental and spiritual health benefits. We’ve compiled a list of Black Owned Yoga Studios for you to support. Let us know which others we should know about!

Black Owned Yoga Studios

Deeply Rooted (Atlanta, GA)

Xude Yoga (Houston, TX)

Sugar and Sage (Dallas, TX)

Anacostia Yogi (Washington D.C.)

Black Owned Yoga Studios

Spiritual Essence Yoga (Upper Marlboro, MD )

Black Owned Yoga Studios

Pies Fitness Yoga (Alexandria, Virginia)

Black Owned Yoga Studios

Eb and Flow Yoga (Chicago, IL)

Black Owned Yoga Studios

Yoga Love (Oakland, CA)

Black Owned Yoga Studios

Yoga with Rocky (San Francisco, CA)

Bianca Yoga Floetry (Los Angeles, CA)

Vitality Meditation (Philadelphia, PA)

Khepera Wellness (Philadelphia, PA)

Bodywork by Bre (Palm Springs, California)

Studio 34 (Philadelphia, PA)

Ase Yoga Studios (Philadelphia, PA)

Sisters of Yoga (New York, NY)

Urban Asanas (Brooklyn, NY) 

Magnolia Yoga Studio (New Orleans, LA)

The Soular Yogi (Gulfport, MS)

More & More I AM (Baton Rouge, LA)

Yoga Noir Project (Baton Rouge, LA)

Your Inner Yogi (Memphis, TN)

Any Body Yoga (Memphis, TN)

Yoganic Flow (Detroit, MI)

Heal Haus (New York, NY)

Yoga House (Houston, TX)

Black Owned Yoga Studios

Level 3 Yoga (Atlanta, GA)

Sankofa Yoga (Laurel, MD)


Special thanks to  Ajax Jaxon, owner of Magnolia Yoga Studio, and her community of Yogi’s for helping us create this list!

-Tony O. Lawson


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10 mins read

The Funky Diabetic – Why Phife Dawg’s Death should Spark a Conversation about Diabetes

Like many of you, I was greeted by sad news this morning. Phife Dawg of the legendary group, A Tribe Called Quest, had passed away from medical complications caused by diabetes. He was only 45 years old. Phife had been battling diabetes mellitus type 1 since he was first diagnosed in 1990, the year that Tribe’s first album dropped.

56f2c71bac874.image Phife’s condition was hereditary (his mother had diabetes) and it was exacerbated by his hectic touring schedule which caused him to eat large amounts of fast food. In a 2010 interview , he said, “I was still waking up to a glass of Quik, you know what I’m saying? Oreo cookies for breakfast, just stupid shit. It didn’t make it any better that we were on the road performing, eating KFC, McDonalds, shit like that and I was going hard when we was younger”. At some point, his kidneys began to fail and in 2004 he started dialysis. Eventually, his wife became his donor and gifted him with one of her kidneys. He drastically improved his eating habits and seemingly regained control over his diabetes before A Tribe Called Quest’s reunion in 2008. Sadly, that wasn’t enough to prolong his life into old age.


His passing reminded me of the death of Patrice O’Neal, one of my favorite comedians. Patrice was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in his early twenties and died at 41.


I’m 37-years old now, and thankfully, in good health. So as far as I’m concerned, these guys were way too young to die. Unfortunately, diabetes is one of the most life-threatening health problems plaguing the Black community today. Over ninety percent of people who have the disease suffer from type 2 diabetes. This is largely the result of excess body weight and lack of physical exercise. According to the American Diabetes Association, Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and young adults, and was previously known as juvenile diabetes. Only five percent of people with diabetes have this form of the disease.

Word cloud concept illustration of diabetes condition

Compared to the general U.S. population, African Americans are disproportionately affected by diabetes. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Minority Health (OMH) website, “African Americans are almost twice as likely to be diagnosed with diabetes as non-Hispanic whites. In addition, they are more likely to suffer complications from diabetes, such as end-stage renal disease (ESRD) and lower extremity amputations. Although African Americans have the same or lower rate of high cholesterol as their non-Hispanic white counterparts, they are more likely to have high blood pressure.”

Screen Shot 2016-03-23 at 8.18.21 AM

End-stage renal disease (ESRD) signifies that the kidneys are barely or no longer functioning after about 10-20 years of chronic kidney disease. Without dialysis or a kidney transplant, ESRD leads to death. According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), ESRD related to diabetes is about 170% higher in black men than in White men and about 131% higher in black women than in White women.

Screen Shot 2016-03-23 at 8.21.35 AM

Diabetes isn’t exclusive to the Western world though. This health condition is also becoming more prevalent in African countries. A report by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) states that the African continent counts approximately 13.6 million people with diabetes. Nigeria has the highest number of people with diabetes(with approximately 1.2 million people affected).

MCC-treating diabetes in Kenya

In Ghana, a large percentage of the population suffers from type 2 diabetes. According to Elizabeth Denyoh, president of Ghana’s National Diabetes Association, the country has no national diabetes program. Denyou said, “In Ghana, most people diagnosed with diabetes are the poorest of the poor. There is a lot of Type 1 diabetes in rural areas. ” Type 1 diabetes, although still rare in many areas, is becoming increasingly more prevalent. IGT (Impaired Glucose Tolerance) is also becoming problematic in many African countries. This counters the prevailing myth that diabetes is solely a disease of the wealthy west.


In numerous interviews (3 min mark), Phife mentioned how he used his celebrity as a platform to raise diabetes awareness. He said that he would love it if he could inspire others with the condition and let them know that they can still achieve their dreams and desires despite the hardships that come with diabetes. Like Phife, there are many other well known individuals who have been affected by diabetes directly or indirectly. Many are using their popularity as a platform to raise awareness.

For example, Lil Jon raised money the American Diabetes Association during his stint on The Apprentice. His now deceased mother had type 2 diabetes and suffered a stroke while they were the taping a season of the show. He went on to raise $195,000 for the cause. A lot of women also struggle with diabetes. There are many problems that are associated with this. It is always best to look into finding help. For example, you may struggle with having an over active bladder due to diabetes. If you are looking for help, you might want to look into a site like

1361555530_lil-jon-now-560Dennis Coles aka Tony Starks aka Ghostface Killah of the Wu Tang Clan, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 1996. In a 2005 interview about his condition, he said “I didn’t know what that shit was.” He went to two doctors before it was detected. “My sugar was mad high, but it was a little relief to know what it was.” His doctor prescribed insulin along with a healthier regiment. “That meant putting down the blunts and cutting back on the alcohol and sweets.” It’s about discipline”, said Ghost. “You can quit the cigarettes and all that other shit but as a diabetic you fiend for sweets. When you sitting at the crib staring at them Oreos, you gonna fuck around and go in. You want those Fruity Pebbles and all that shit. I had to learn how to just chill, exercise, drink protein shakes and monitor my sugar.”


Let me be clear: this isn’t some pathological problem that’s simply impacting our community. Black people are dying and developing poor health, largely because of racism and oppressive systems. There are virtual food deserts in many Black communities across the U.S. Young people consume high amounts of soda and candy and other crap. There are rarely any healthy food options, let alone affordable options in many of our communities.


Most of us know someone or have someone close to us who are diabetic, if we’re not diabetic ourselves. If you are not sure whether you are diabetic, there are plenty of diabetic supplies on the market you can test yourself with. Eating habits are hard to break, especially considering the fact that sugar is literally in everything we consume. The impact of everyday racism and classism have a way of negatively impacting our immune systems and the physiological functions of our bodies. But to know better is to do better. Let’s all do what we can to prevent another loss like this. If you want to know about some Black owned businesses that are committed to health and wellness, check out our previous post.


To address this growing epidemic, the American Diabetes Association has created programs and materials to increase awareness of the seriousness of diabetes and its complications among African Americans. Learn more here.

Tony Oluwatoyin Lawson

Correction: An earlier version of this post stated that Phife had type 2 diabetes instead of type 1.

12 mins read

22 Businesses in the $3.4 Trillion Health and Wellness Industry

Our list of Black owned businesses in the health and wellness industry is here right on time. Why? Because each new year is typically accompanied by resolutions related to improving health. My goals have generally stayed the same – to increase my income, improve my diet and to exercise more.

This past year, kudos to me, I’ve made quite a bit of progress. I’ve lost almost 30lbs in the past 7 months. Now, in the right lighting and depending on how much I’ve had to eat, I can actually see something that resembles a six pack. I owe much of this progress to whomever created the meme below.

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With so many factors negatively affecting our health, whether it is genetically modified food or the unpronounceable chemicals in our household products, it is even more important that we pay much closer attention to our health.

There are at least five chronic health conditions that disproportionately affect Black Americans more than any other group. Also, the health issues that were once unique to the West are now becoming prevalent on the Continent. Don’t be fooled by the late night infomercials featuring starving children.

Today, increasingly more people in developing countries go to bed having consumed too many calories rather than going to bed hungry. Being overweight is rapidly becoming a more common problem than being underweight. This is due in large part to the popularity of fast food chains spreading across Africa.



The good news is that these days, whether you live in the Western hemisphere or on the Continent, it is likely that you are taking some steps toward living a healthier life.

Africans in Africa are rapidly becoming much more health conscious and the big bellies that once represented wealth and good living are not the status symbol they once were.

In the U.S., more Black people are also interested in fitness and health, as is evident by the large following that fitness-related sites like Black Men RunBlack Women Do Workout, and Black Fitness Today have amassed.

hbcu_5k1According to a report by the Global Wellness Institute, the $3.4 trillion Global Wellness Market is now three times larger than the worldwide Pharmaceutical industryThe report states that the sectors seeing the most significant growth since 2010 are the Fitness and Mind-Body industry as well as Healthy Eating, Nutrition, and Weight Loss industry.

What does this mean? Simply put, people are relying less on drugs to prevent and solve their health issues.
The Fitness and Mind-body industry ($446.4billion) includes gyms and health clubs; personal training and yoga. The Healthy Eating, Nutrition, and Weight Loss industry ($574 billion) include: health foods, natural and organic foods; weight-loss and diet services; diet and weight-loss foods and meal services; and anti-obesity prescription drugs.

Black Owned Businesses in the Health and Wellness industry

There are abundant opportunities available for Black owned businesses and entrepreneurs who are interested in in this industry. Here are several businesses and services that encourage health and wellness and will help you get in shape for the new year and beyond!

Healthy Eating, Nutrition, & Weight Loss

Food and Beverage

Black Owned Businesses

Jus Blend is a Jamaican-rooted; New York City-based family business that produces fresh, cold pressed juices to the city and surrounding areas. Their produce is “fresh and sourced within 24-hours of your order.”

Black Owned Businesses

Jimmy’s Vegan Cookies  Jimmy Prude is the founder of this wholesale Vegan Cookie company based in Chicago. His products are now available on select Whole Foods shelves.

Khepra’s Raw Food Juice Bar: Khepra Anu founded this Washington DC-based raw food juice bar that was featured in the Washington Post’s Best Eats in 2012.

The WaterHole is owned by Lisa Harris. This Maryland based juice bar also provides coffee, wifi cable, and good vibes.

Local Farms


Five Seeds Farm is a family-owned and operated city and country farm in Baltimore, MD. This city-based farm was developed in the spring of 2008 in the backyard of a Belair-Edison neighborhood and quickly expanded to other vacant lots and private yards across the city.


Renaissance Community Co-op has a mission to create a democratically-owned and controlled grocery store in Northeast Greensboro, NC, that provides all of Greensboro with healthy foods at affordable prices.

Black Owned Businesses

Patchwork City Farms is a family owned urban farm located in the South West Atlanta historic West End neighborhood. Patchwork City Farm’s mission is to “work with local landholders – public and private – to create a sustainable, naturally grown local food system.”

Fitness and Mind-body industry


Black Owned Businesses

NY based Afro Flow Yoga infuses electrifying dance movements of the African Diaspora with a meditative yoga sequence of gentle yet powerful stretches. Founder, Leslie Salmon Jones is a former Alvin Ailey dancer, certified holistic personal trainer, yoga instructor, certified wellness coach, and public speaker.

Michael Hayes, the owner of NY based “Buddha Body Yoga,” has over 20 years experience teaching and has has traveled regularly to Thailand to study with master teachers. His class will benefit anyone regardless of their individual anatomy, flexibility, age, or yoga background.

Black Owned Businesses

Chelsea Loves Yoga is founded by Chelsea Roberts, PhD. She is an Atlanta based yoga instructor and educator. The purpose of Chelsea Loves Yoga is to illuminate the voices and images of yogis who have been traditionally eliminated or (under)represented in Yoga in the United States and abroad.


Dade2Shelby  Derrick “DJ” Townsel, a former NFL athlete, has become an inspiration to thousands who didn’t think a passion for fitness or yoga could be a possibility for them— mainly men and people of color. Derrick is now a sought-after Certified Personal Trainer and Calisthenics Instructor based in Orlando.

12208487_1160592893969453_8166857437012076124_nSelamta Yoga is an eco-friendly yoga mat company based in San Diego and founded by Aregache Demelew, or “Mimi’. The company is dedicated to spreading the practice of yoga, eastern philosophy & culture to the world. Selamta means “Peace Be With You” in Amharic (a native language of Ethiopia)

Black Owned Businesses

Spa & Resorts

Black Owned Businesses

Virginia-based, Salamander Resort & Spa, features 168 luxurious rooms and suites, a luxury spa, full-service equestrian center, a dedicated cooking studio, wine bar, billiards room and a unique array of conference and banquet facilities.

Chatto Salon is a full service, eco-friendly salon located in the Gold Coast area of Downtown Chicago, IL, that offers its own natural and organic products.

Atlanta-based, IWI Fresh Garden Day Spa, partners with local farms and gardens and handpicks fresh vegetables, fruits and herbs to create fresh skin care products. They offer spa services such as Manicures, Veggie Pedicures, Veggie Facials, Herbal Massages, Waxing, Threading and Natural Hair Care.

Black Owned BusinessesFrancine’s Salon and Day Spa, the first Black owned Salon & Day Spa in Hartford County has been located in Bloomfield, Connecticut, for over a decade. The founder, Francine Austin, is a 20-year plus veteran of the cosmetology industry.

Fitness Centers


Shaun Chambers, BodyRoc founder, is a former boxer and song writer. His BodyRoc Fit Lab is CT’s first dynamic, boutique boxing studio. A high-intensity workout that fuses fitness with entertainment, the signature circuit-style workout combines treadmills, heavy bag boxing, and weight training, all in a dance club environment.

Black Owned Businesses

KTX Fitness founder, Keith Thompson, has created an Atlanta-based cycle class that is guaranteed to have you sweating. KTX’s “Rock the Bike™” Cycle, Step, and Zumba are uniquely different and literally an exercise party as it provides a fun and challenging workout that is sure to have you working every muscle.

Black Owned Businesses

Rahman “Ray” Grayson, Mr. Shut Up and Train, is the founder of this Atlanta-based personal training company. His signature “In Motion” style of training focuses on keeping the heart rate elevated and the body in motion. Whether you are aiming to lose weight, build muscle, or gain endurance, Ray has the plan for you.

Knight’s Personal Fitness is a Philadelphia-based personal training facility founded by Tommi Knight. His first location was in a basement. A few months later he moved to a 1,100 square foot studio space. Now, Tommie trains clients in a 5,000-square-foot facility. I guess you can say, business is booming.


Black Owned Businesses

BRUKWINE is a Caribbean inspired dance workout created by professional dancers and choreographers, Tavia and Tamara. Brukwine, “Break out and Wine,” is a NY-based workout class featuring dancehall moves turned choreography, complete with waste winding and hot sounds straight from Jamaica.

The Dwana Smallwood Performing Arts Center is based in NY. Founded former principal dancer with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater turned Director of Student Affairs (and founder of the OWLAG’s Dance Company) at the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa, DSPAC aims to mold the world’s next generation of elite dancers and artists.  No worries, they also offers a variety of classes for adults ranging from Orisa dance workshops to Afro-Caribbean technique classes.

Black Owned Businesses


-Tony Oluwatoyin Lawson