Friday, January 29, 2010

Health = Happiness

Hello! Too busy with site work that is going to be re-constructed soon! But that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t blog J Recently came across our health minister’s advice through one of the mails that said, we should first take care of our health to enjoy our life! Well said really! We all are running behind so many things daily in the attempt to feel “happy” that we don’t give time to understand whether we really are happy. Moreover, definition of happiness varies for everyone. One might be happy in earning money and the other in listening to favorite music and doing nothing. But if you ask learned people which can be said as the greatest gift to mankind that makes us happy, they will say “Health!”
True enough, isn’t it? Let’s think you feel happy by going out and eating in posh restaurant or you feel happy to enjoy an outing to a plush resort. But just think if you are suffering from a crippling disease or pain somewhere, would you be able to enjoy and seek happiness from these ventures? No! Some cynics may say they will be happy if they earn whatever they may have to suffer; but it’s not true. So, let’s put HEALTH on top of our agenda from today! That doesn’t mean life will be dull and we shouldn’t enjoy ourselves. Let’s make health part of our life and let it happen naturally to us by living naturally!

Here is some interesting health info for you!
You burn more calories sleeping than by watching television! So, sleep is good!

Consuming chocolate was considered sin in 16th century

Rats are responsible for destruction of 1/3rd of world’s food supply every year!

Mexican women have reported to spend 15.3% of their life in sickness.

In 18th century, chocolate was believed to cure stomach ache!

When you eat chocolate, your brain produces the chemical phenyl ethylamine. Same chemical is produced in brain when you fall in love! J

Einstein’s parents were scared because despite reaching nine years of age, he could not speak fluently!

Smokers beware! You might love Marlboro brand. But the first owner of the company dies of lung cancer!

Caffeine addicts! Apples are better at waking you up in morning than coffee!

Don’t put grapes in microwave! They just explode!

Heroine was registered by German Company Beyer for use in cough medicine for children! Beware what you administer your children!

We use refrigerators to freeze our food. Eskimos in the chilliest continents use refrigerators to prevent the food from freezing! J

Being an Egyptian doctor is dangerous! If a patient succumbs during surgery, doctor’s hands are cut off as punishment!

Today we love ketchup medically due to its Lycopene content. In 1830, ketchup was used as medicine.

Toxic plants in house poison more children than the chemicals used in house!

America is the leading country for plastic surgeries!

Majority of Zambians do not see their 40th birthday!

If you wear a headphone for an hour, you increase the bacteria in your ear by 700 times!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

About a Spiritual Health Book!

Hi everybody! It seems that I am loving blogging and it seems to become my second nature soon! :) Well, I was just thinking what to write about that I will like to write and suddenly Dr Abhay Bang’s amazing Marathi book “Maaza Sakshatkari Hrudayrog” (My Eye-Opener Cardiac Illness, if we need to translate it in English; though the essence will not be covered) came to my mind. When I think of any medical or health-related books, this book comes to my mind among first few. Somehow when I read this book, I was as if in trance for some days. Those who know me will obviously say that it’s my habit to get influenced by books but for me, this was a totally different experience altogether. I was touched by the frankness and in-depth study of this awesome personality Dr Abhay Bang. I am certainly no one to write a review for his great work but this is an attempt to put forth what I comprehended from this book.

Open the first page and you are stuck by the eye-catching lines of Jim Warren, a cancer survivor. Have a look-

Twelve years have come and gone,
And I am still at the dance
I guess that God has just changed his mind
And gave me another chance

And on that day I took a vow
To let go of the past
To live my life and love each day
As if it were my last

In the first chapter “Aghaat”, doctor describes how he was diagnosed of heart disease while he was serving community at his Shodhagram at Gadchiroli. He is a man with a shrewd sense of social service and handles rural health care sector of his self-formulated hospital cum research center. While leading a calm rural life without the hustle bustle of city, he never expected himself to fall for a cardiac malady, a near-fatal heart attack. His keen intellect and acuity of a physician led him to search for the causes those put him in this condition. Also he describes how despite being a doctor, he kept ignoring his body’s alarms those were pointing towards some kind of serious problem time and again.

While describing his woes and his fight against adversity of heart attack in the hospital, he read Braunwald’s Heart Disease and Dean Ornish’s Reversing Heart Disease. He gives description of how today’s medical investigations can be misguiding and deceiving of normalcy when there is something abnormal going on in the body. The rest story of first part gives a physical, mental, and emotional crisis of the patient who has to witness his heart problem, several investigations, surgery, ups and downs during treatment, enhanced knowledge of purpose of existence, numerous things we enjoy as the healthy human being, and repentance of the stress that we behold despite knowing that positive side is more dazzling than meager negativism of life.

The second chapter on Ornish according to me is a separate study lesson altogether. I believe reading and comprehending this chapter is enough for one lifetime! The best part about this chapter is that it does not entail us only about the physical lifestyle changes those are necessary to revert a cardiac disease or to prevent a heart disease. But in depth, it discusses the mental and emotional change one should adopt to remain healthy throughout life. Importance of meditation, yoga, shavaasana, and stress-free living are stressed and apt examples are given how to bring about these changes. Moreover, his explanation regarding how to relieve stress by attaching ourselves with the innate things that we possess as a child but forget in due course is astonishing and touching. Spirituality is another plus of not only this chapter but of this entire book. How spirituality can be cultivated and directed to find permanent calmness and happiness is given extremely beautifully. Correlation between Ornishs’s and Gandhian philosophies is another point to be mentioned about this chapter. Those who may call this book as non-medical should read this chapter. In exceedingly easily understandable language, doctor has given how to calculate different health parameters personally and how to bring about changes. Diet advices given here do not just list the things to be eaten but also give how to modify existing diet with the healthy alternatives. Here you also find interesting info regarding the method to start any exercise, choice of exercise, frequency and intensity of exercise, calculating how much exercise is enough for us, and what day to day things can be altered positively to get maximum exercise without hitting gym.

The next chapter starts with a Zen haiku that says, “Sitting quietly, doing nothing, spring comes and grass grows by itself! The chapter entails a doctor’s conversion into a spiritualist who wants to look at life with the all-new vision that existed within though not paid heed to. Right from yoga, dhyaana, to various cults of spiritualism the chapter discusses how we should sacrifice self if we want to be happy and healthy at the end. Living in present tense is elaborated with the ease and efficacy of a great spiritual being. The small examples given here and there only make your reading an enjoyable experience without making it dull even a minute.

The fourth chapter carries forward this vision of spiritualism further elaborately. The fact that our health is directly proportional to our spiritual wellness is understood here. This can be said as the most beautiful chapter in the entire book for those who believe in spiritualism and try to comprehend the unknown by the known. The frankness of the author in accepting his defeat at the start of his spiritual quest makes us concretely believe in his future spiritual endeavor and we become part of his quest (at least for some days unless we try to pursue it for lifetime, which is advisable). The effect of spiritualism to help conquer our psycho-physical health is worth reading hundred times.

The fifth chapter I would say particularly applies to twenty first century youth. Running behind deadlines, forgetting how to laugh for a day, and meeting friends only online have become synonymous with our fast life today. The question, how much is enough is unanswered still. And that is discussed here to comprehend Gandhian philosophy that says, “There is enough on this earth for everybody’s need; but not for everybody’s greed!”

The sixth chapter reveals around human quest for ultimate peace. It is certainly relevant that only after one is at peace with oneself can find peace around and can be peaceful in body and mind. Through all this modified controlled lifestyle measures, spiritual quests, meditations, sacrifice of material instincts, doctor teaches us how to conquer futuristic health maladies. Today when we are afraid at the slightest attack of viral fevers and swine flu, this treasure of psycho-somatic wellness will help us evolve ourselves beyond the realms of time!

The last chapter gives medical details and health parameters’ calculative details. There are details and some tests regarding diet and exercise. After going through entire book, this last part is exquisitely important and I can say that each word of this lesson must be read carefully not to miss anything.

Well, I think how much ever I write about this book, it is less. In between had done a vague attempt to translate this book in English but could not find time and energy to elaborate this awesome doctor’s work. So, can say this is an attempt to satisfy my writing instinct about this divine book!

Facts About Your Acidity Problem

Almost every one of us experiences acidity or heartburn some times or the other. Blame it on faulty diet or lack of exercise, hyperacidity is one of the commonest conditions we observe in medical practice. The condition gives rise to heartburn (burning in chest), loss of appetite, vomiting sensation, nausea, vague discomfort or pain in upper abdomen, and at times frank vomiting. Today medical community is worried about recurrent acid reflux disease, as it may be the sign of early cardiac malady or esophageal adenocarcinoma too. No doubt, instead of gulping antacid tablets, one must consult physician if he or she is experiencing such spells recurrently.

We all know that hyperacidity results due to variety of causes. But in day to day clinical practice, I have observed some causes those slip our mind while counting the causes of acid reflux disease. Let’s see-

(1) Irregular meals: In almost one third of my patients, I observe this as an important cause. Blame it on packed schedules or just laziness to have timely meals, but this is one of the chief causes of hyperacidity. You skip meals and the condition worsens. Explanation for a layman is simple. Tell me where should all that acid go that is created for digesting your food go? According to ancient health sciences, it is known that there are certain times during the day when the acid (digestive acid or bile) production is at its peak. It is also observed that it is produced maximally around 11am to 1 pm. If you do not have your meals during this time, that acid is not given any task of digestion and it sets out to trouble you. That’s why diet-experts ask us to steer clear of fasting and stuff alike. When I asked my patients to follow stricter meal times, surprisingly 90% of them reported betterment in their acidity symptoms.

(2) Post-meal nap: Today we all agree with the fact that power-nap enhances work efficiency. But when should we have power nap? Immediately after food? No! In my clinical practice, I have seen many patients who say the post-meal dozing is must for them. And they tend to lie down immediately after meals. I studied the patients of acidity those used to sleep immediately after food. Around 70% of patients reported increase in their acidity immediately after getting up from sleep. Those without a tendency of acidity too developed discomfort in stomach when they slept immediately after food. When I told them to leave a gap of about 1 and ½ hours or the least 1 hour after food, they tend to develop fewer acidic spells. Further it also helped them to lessen their fat absorption and thus reduce weight to some extent, as sleeping immediately after food is also one of the causes of obesity.

(3) Taking antacid tablets recurrently: This I would like to explain on the basis of principles of homeopathy. More you suppress the expression of inner disharmony, more it will emerge to deteriorate the system further. Similarly, the antacid tablets try to suppress the acidity and this suppression leads later to exaggerated acidity and heartburn. Reduce the dosage of antacid tablets and opt for some natural acidity reliever like homeopathic medicine and the acidity is gone.

(4) Drinking less water: In the clinical practice, I have seen that if you want to point your finger to a causative factor that leads to largest number of diseases, I will point it to lack of adequate water intake. So many known and unknown symptoms can be relieved just by increasing water intake. Almost all my prescriptions contain a bottom line- drink at least 8 to 10 glasses of water per day, irrespective of the type of disease I am treating. This free ingredient in our body is thankfully available free of cost (I m not talking of bottled water) and we can nullify or prevent the upcoming maladies just by drinking more water. If you fail to keep track of how much water you are drinking, fill in a container with 10 glasses of water. You can go beyond it but not short of it. Acid is diluted with water intake when in excess. That’s why ancient sciences recommend drinking water in between the meals but not immediately after meals that may cause indigestion due to dilution of acid needed for digestion.

(5) Late night meals: In ancient Hindu literature, meals are prohibited after 12 midnight. Going against the body’s circadian rhythm will make you suffer with symptoms like acidity and/or migraine. As mentioned above, after late night meal, one tends to sleep immediately, which is also one of the causes for acidity.

(6) Junk food: When I see children eating bags of kurkure every day and their parents worrying about their lack of appetite and nausea, I wonder! Why can’t we stop the habit of such nasty practices? When our children are young and impressionable, you give them such junk food, they grow with that habit, and when they reach knowledgeable age, you want them to get rid of the habit. Is it sensible? It does not mean deprive them of the food that they love. But putting strings to the frequency of eating is in the hands of parents. Such things lead to acidity in future. Also we can try to give them better food alternatives those are equally tasty but healthy. If you do not want to cater blames of your young ones of suffering from horrendous acidity spells later in life, do something now! It might be late tomorrow!

(7) Lack of physical activity: Well, the last but the most important points. When I studied the female patients of acidity those were housewives and were spending time in sedentary recreational activities like watching TV for many hours in a day, the findings were astonishing. Despite leading a luxury life, these were the women who were the victims of acidity and migraines more than others. To be precise, 70% of women reported acidity at least twice or thrice a month. Same results were observed in people like us; I mean sedentary office workers. Around 60% of so-called brainy people suffer from acidity quite frequently. Intensity-wise, the acidic spells in these people were found to be more intense than the above mentioned house-wives (making us think if stress is also a contributing factor). On the contrary, when I studied working-class women (those who work in fields and earn livelihood by strenuous work whole day), the acidity was found in less than 15% of cases. Nothing more need be said! Exercise and you will steer clear of hyperacidity!

Well, no doubt, there are tendencies to acidity in some people. Genetic factors may play a role too. However, by following certain rules given in above points, we can modify those nasty tendencies. And when this is followed by apt homeopathic treatment, one can get totally cured of hyperacidity; something we all wish for!

Smoking Statistics across the world

Whole medical community is concerned about increasing smoking instances across the world. The deadly injurious smoking is taking more lives than the cardiac ailments. Here are the alarming statistics of smoking those may help us understand the necessary steps and future care to be taken--

Rank Countries Amount

# 1 Austria: 36.3%

# 2 Greece: 35%

# 3 Hungary: 33.8%

# 4 Luxembourg: 33%

# 5 Turkey: 32.1%

# 6 Netherlands:32%

# 7 Korea, South:30.4%

# 8 Japan: 30.3%

# 9 Spain: 28.1%

# 10 Denmark: 28%

# 11 Poland: 27.6%

# 12 Belgium: 27%

# 13 Ireland: 27%

# 14 France: 27%

# 15 Switzerland:26.8%

# 16 Mexico: 26.4%

# 17 Norway: 26%

# 18 United Kingdom:26%

# 19 New Zealand:25%

# 20 Germany: 24.3%

# 21 Slovakia: 24.3%

# 22 Italy: 24.2%

# 23 Czech Republic:24.1%

# 24 Iceland: 22.4%

# 25 Finland: 22.2%

# 26 Portugal: 20.5%

# 27 Australia: 19.8%

# 28 Sweden: 17.5%

# 29 United States:17.5%

# 30 Canada: 17%

Weighted average: 26.4%

SOURCE: OECD Health Data 2005

Monday, January 25, 2010

Homeopathic System of Medicine: Not that Easy!

When one enters a homeopathic college out of choice, he or she knows that they are going to be the beholders of this wonderful science for the rest of their lives. Though in the initial period when the teachers try to imbibe the symptom similarity between drugs and diseases, everything seems to go tangent above the head. Truly homeopathy can be said as one of the most difficult sciences to perceive. Yes, this may sound funny to some who try to use homeopathy in day to day life for minor ailments. I have seen people without any degree those try to apply the mode of treatment for various maladies and are quite successful at times to get rid of the problem. But this is possible only for acute diseases most of the times unless the person does an in-depth study of the homeopathic system of medicine.

I am not against people who are learning homeopathy on their own to treat household ailments. But certainly I would advise all people to be careful while getting treated from these quick-learners. Because after 5 and ½ years of studies and 8 years of practice, I can say that we are students of homeopathy for life. Nobody can ever understand the system that has so many avenues and offshoots of therapy modules to the fullest. But those who have seriously studied the system in its entirety along with its application in clinical medicine are capable of applying it in practice better.

Necessity of Clinical Knowledge:

As we know, homeopathic medicines are given on the basis of characteristic symptoms of the disease. For example, if a girl gets nosebleed instead of her regular menses, then that becomes a characteristic symptom for that girl and medicine is based on that. If a person with jaundice instead of feeling nauseating feels like eating a lot without feeling of satiety, that’s the characteristic symptom for that individual and his medicine will be based on that.

But to comprehend these characteristic symptoms, one must first know what the common symptoms of the disease are. The signs and symptoms of the disease are studied in clinical medicine. A homeopathic doctor must be able to (or is able to if he has given ample attention in his clinical course during bachelors) examine his or her patient thoroughly with enough attention to inspection, palpation, percussion, and auscultation along with the characteristic symptoms of the disease. It means the work for a homeopathic doctor is doubled as compared to that of his friend in modern medicine.

No wonder in many countries, homeopathic medicine course is available only after one completes his graduation in medicine. The reason behind is same. Even if you are interested in the patient’s peculiar signs and symptoms more than diagnosis of the disease, you must know what the disease in background is and must be able to investigate accordingly before you proceed for actual prescription. Unless you know that low hemoglobin is the reason for dark circles around eyes, your homeopathic prescription without any iron supplement will not suffice the purpose.

I owe it to my teachers!

Try to utilize your education period in homeopathic college to the fullest to comprehend the basics of medicine along with homeopathic applications. By our immense fortune, we had had the best teachers in Dhondumama Sathe Homeopathic Medical College in Pune where I completed my graduation in Homeopathic medicine. We had the best of teachers like Dr Mangrulkar and Dr Patwardhan for basics of Anatomy and great homeopaths like Dr Sethia and Dr Solanki to form a grounded platform for our future endeavors. The hospital faculties like Dr Dhananjay Kelkar, Dr Amrutkar, and Dr Girish Godbole only made us stronger to face the clinical storms in future. Kelkar’s sir’s advice to spend maximum time in hospital instead of theory lectures helped us a lot to comprehend the various diagnostic findings in different cases.

When today I prescribe for a patient in rural parts of Karnataka and at the same time give medicines to an affluent patient from Florida, my faith in my homeopathic system of medicine boosts my confidence. There might be various off-shoots of Homeopathy those have cropped up and some homeopaths may differ in their opinions about different methods. But I consider it as a glory of homeopathy to be recognized by different schools of thought and still hold on to the eternal principle of “like cures like”!

Exercise: How much is enough?

Tough question indeed! Today we find people sweating in gyms and on roads while jogging! “Fitness freak” is the new ‘hero’ who is riding our hearts and brains. Medical journals are shouting an appeal to reduce weight to fight twenty first century bugs of obesity. While our fit friends keep on giving us a complex, we try to walk on their footsteps but fail to elicit desired results. What to do? Shall we just ignore warnings of our health experts?

No! Not at all! We must pay heed to the caution that lack of exercise can lead to disaster on all levels. The syndrome X that comprises of diabetes mellitus, hypertension, and hypercholesterolemia results due to sedentary lifestyles and these are the killers and lead to end organ damage. So, we must protect ourselves from them. And exercise is the best weapon available. It is the single weapon that can put an end to all the problems in future. Then why do we fail to achieve what we should do? In global survey, it has been found that the major reason why fitness programs fail is the boredom associated with same fitness routine everyday. Walking treadmills or climbing steps may make you feel tired of repetitions.

That’s why fitness enthusiasts try inculcating different fitness regimes every day or throughout the week. Walk your favorite street, climb the neighboring hill, dance to your favorite music or give yourself a stress-free yoga for a day! All these burn calories and repetitions can be maintained as and when needed to burn more calories as per requirement. Most importantly, making yourself free from the fixed time table gives you a powerful mental boost to carry on with the fitness regime unabated.

Well, now the issue of boredom is solved. But how much is enough? How to calculate that? Let’s see.

To improve your fitness level and stamina, it is recommended by experts that you should exercise daily for at least 30 minutes or three times a week for around 1 hour. But calculative things help for short term. We do not calculate our eating schedules so very scrupulously because we love to eat. Similarly when the fitness regime becomes the way of life and part of your happy day to day schedule, you will enjoy your exercise. It is advised by experts that decide your exercise depending upon your pulse rate. It is calculated that one should exercise at the rate of 50 to 88% of his or her pulse rate. Begin slowly however. No haste will do well. Slowly enhance your work out capacity and decide what suits you the best. You can consult your physician to decide what should be your daily exercise and how to go about it.

The major thing one should understand is that we cannot generalize the exercise regime. As we say in homeopathy, each individual is different and so different homeopathic medicines may be indicated for same problem, exercise is no different. Do not compare yourself with anyone else. But at the same time, getting inspired by others is good thing to do.

There is technique for every exercise. Be it walking or treadmill exercise. By far it is advised by experts that for a harmless and full-body exercise, brisk walking is the best exercise. So, in your variety of exercises it is advisable to give few days for a great and rejuvenating walk. We will see the methodology to walk and rules to follow in my next write up! Till then enjoy your changed exercise regime!

How a child of asthma responded to Homeopathic treatment?

When Rahul* came to me he was a complete mess. His nose was running incessantly and his small chest heaving terribly. While holding his Mom’s hand, he was looking straight in my eyes and I felt a deep sense of love for this young boy of 4. According to his mother, he is having asthmatic breathing since he was 2 and had undergone many nebulizations to keep his airways open to breathe properly. But as was expected, he was never out of those horrific spells completely.

After carefully considering his physical and mental symptoms I prescribed and dispensed homeopathic medicines for his wheezy chest and night cough. Within a week of starting the medicine, he was completely all right except for some bouts of cough occasionally. The astonishing part for his mother was that not even once he got up at night after that. Sound sleep was because of his calm chest and unblocked nose. The homeopathic medicines to soothe the chest discomfort while putting breaks on tendency to develop asthma in future are miraculous. Just match the characteristic symptoms with medicinal symptoms and you can never go wrong.

One can study Borland’s children types if you want to comprehend different types of children and how to apply the homeopathic principles in clinical pediatrics. Pediatrics is a vast branch for homeopathy and it is wonderful to say that in this blooming buds, homeopathy acts wonderfully enough to give them shelter for life.

Yes, why it is necessary to opt for homeopathic treatment in childhood is that it acts as a preventive therapy for many problems those may crop up in future. The child’s bodily expressions are not suppressed and the symptoms of the disease are treated mildly to avoid any unwanted side effects in future. It is pitiful site to see a child taking inhalers containing bronchodilators or steroids. One must understand the harmful effects of these strong medications on the child for the rest of his life. When will one pay attention to boosting immunity of children instead of just nullifying the bodily expressions like fever, cough, and cold?

Wonderfully enough, kids are the best friends in my practice. Firstly they know that this is the doctor who will give them sweet pills instead of pricks and this is the reason kids never fear going to homeopaths. They will answer everything on their own (unless too young) and help us comprehend their constitution as a child. There is no exaggeration in the fact that only homeopathy can relieve the children’s diseases without inflicting any harm while building herd immunity as a whole!

Skin diseases: A major Domain for Homeopathy!

Homeopathic system of medicine is based on the principle of like cures like and the individualistic approach to the patient’s maladies makes it a wonderful science to study. Among various therapeutic utilities, skin ailments form one of the major domains of homeopathy and today numerous patients with varied skin problems go directly to homeopaths for their faith in the system.

The skin is considered as the mirror of mind. No wonder due to stress and tensions of modern world, skin diseases are cropping up like never before. Right from simple acne vulgaris to psoriasis, we can see many people suffering from these troubles. As far as homeopathic system of medicine is concerned, it treats skin ailments depending upon the symptoms similarity and each individual is different from the other in this regard.

Therefore, if two people are having acne, the homeopathic medicine for both of them may differ. The problem with modern medicine is that considering both of them as the patients with acne, they prescribe quite similar or same antibiotics and local ointments to suppress the acne. But obviously this is suppression and driving out off the acne. No wonder after initial relief, the acne come back with alarming intensity.

The homeopathic treatment however is considered to enhance the immunity of the person to conquer the skin maladies and to make skin strong enough to repel bacterial attacks. With sustained treatment, one can find reduction in recurrence and that’s the reason why homeopathy is said to impart cure and not just palliation. With effective therapy, most skin diseases including psoriasis, lichen planus, fungal infections, dermatitis, etc find complete cure in homeopathy!