|HEALTH TRIBUNE||Wednesday, September 19, 2001, Chandigarh, India|
The age-old agony called asthma
Give until it hurts for health
The Editor, The Tribune
Within six months, a four-room complex was built up by the hardy rural folk of Perch. We started a dispensary on September 3, 2001. This was reported in the Health &Fitness section of the newspaper on September 12.
As a result of the information given by the newspaper to this apparently small event, a big boon was bestowed upon the group of villages.
The Sahibzada Ajit Singh Trust, Mohali, led by Chairman Baljit Singh along with founder-member Gurdial Singh, came forward with a rare gesture of philanthropy and brotherhood.
A handsome donation of the entire equipment for the X-ray plant to scan the body and lab equipment to carry out nearly 150 different types of blood, urine, stools and other tests (costing several lakhs of rupees) has been announced by the Trust.
In fact, the ECG machine donated on September 3 and reported on the Health and Fitness page was also a gift from this very Trust and delivered personally by Mr Baljit Singh and Mr Gurdial Singh.
I must also gratefully state that we are getting generous donations even from Indians abroad for our health-care services in rural and slum areas highlighted in your columns.
I hope that, true to The Tribune tradition, you will continue to publish events, howsoever small, which can become big and beautiful through your inspiring authentic and vastly popular health columns,not only in India but also abroad.
"Rural salvation": acknowledgement
The Tribune is publishing the entire letter received from Dr (Brig) M.L. Kataria, widely known as the "Saviour of the Slums", thankfully and with the hope that his sentiments on the immense impact of its public-welfare-oriented news and views will bring continuing support to the neglected pockets in the region and beyond. A large number of letters, full of superlative appreciation, are received in the Health section almost daily. These are not published because The Tribune is like a honeybee which tries to bring sweetness without song and dance. Dr Kataria's letter is being reproduced in the larger interest of our generally resourceless composite community.
The age-old agony called asthma
If you suffer from asthma, or someone dear to you does, you need to learn more about it.
Like you, many people suffer from asthma. But, with advice from your doctor, you can lead a full, normal and active like.
Over the last 20 years, important advances have been made in understanding asthma. New therapies have been developed that can help you enjoy life to the full. Therapies that are simple, effective, and safe — to a degree never possible before. Parents of children who suffer from asthma will be especially happy to know that their children can enjoy a largely symptom-free life, alongside normal children.
Asthma is a condition that affects the lungs. People with asthma usually have difficulty in breathing, and often cough a lot. This is because the airways — the pipes that take air to your lungs when you breathe — become narrower than usual. This may be caused by the tightening of the muscles in the walls of the airways, a swelling in the linings of the airways and by sticky mucus blocking them up. This makes it harder for the air to go in and out of your lungs, so you have difficulty in breathing.
Asthma is common. It can start at any age. Men and women, young and old, people of all races and nationalities can develop asthma. Asthma tends to run in families, but sometimes it skips several generations, so not everyone in the family is affected. About half of all children who have asthma grow out of it.
The good news for everyone with asthma is that it can be treated. In fact, it can be treated so well even with inhaled medicines that you can lead a completely normal life. It is important to realise that with regular medication, asthmatics can enjoy a life that is as fulfilling and active as anyone else.
(To be concluded)
Inhalers are safe
In their overwhelming communication with regard to the article "Management of Asthma" in "Health and Fitness", both by post and E-mail, readers have asked many anxious questions. It is not possible to answer all of them individually. Most of the queries reflect the desire to know more about inhalers. Here are a few general answers to allay their fears. But will they freely use the inhalers after reading the following?
Inhalers are safe. They are not habit-forming and the prescription of inhalers does not mean the existence of a very bad and incurable disease. An inhaler is just a device to deliver the medicine in the breathing pipe and this is where the medicine is needed. It is the safest, surest and most efficient mode of treatment. Therefore, use the devices without apprehension. Of course, which salt to use will depend on medical advice.
People have heard many myths about steroid inhalers and they worry a lot. Inhaled steroids are unique in reducing asthma symptoms by controlling the inflammation in the airways. They improve the quality of life and reduce the need for emergency care and hospitalisation.
People think that steroid inhalers are harmful for the growth of children — and women's bones. There is conclusive evidence that even after long treatment children achieve normal adult height. The women, who have taken inhaled steroid for many years, do not have any loss of bone density. I wish you better control of asthma. Do ask more questions if you are still worried.
Spice and medicine
The western world knows black pepper only as a condiment but in India it is also one of the foremost indigenous medicines. Known as Marich in Sanskrit and Piper nigrum scientifically, its popular name is kali mirach. Black pepper is a native of the Western Ghats. In the medieval era its fame as a spice attracted traders from all parts of the world. Nowadays, it is cultivated in other tropical countries also.
Right from the writings of Charaka and Sushruta to the works of other acharyas, black pepper has been amply described in almost every ayurvedic text. It is pungent in taste and light, sharp and hot in effect. It placates vata and kapha but aggravates pitta. The modern analysis of black pepper shows it as consisting of a volatile oil, a few alkaloids besides moisture, protein, minerals, fibre and carbohydrates. Rich in vitamin B-complex, it contains traces of calcium, iron and phosphorus.
Carminative, stimulant, aromatic, digestive, diuretic, tonic and anti-coagulating agent — this how the curative properties of black pepper have been described in Ayurveda. It excites the salivary and sweat glands besides killing intestinal worms and propelling a downward movement of abdominal wind.
Black pepper is also one of the few herbs which Ayurveda describes as pramathi (helping to open obstructions in different channels of the body).
Black pepper has been used for various health problems. Starting from common cough and cold, sinusitis and bronchitis to indigestion, distension of the abdomen, colic and conditions involving sluggishness of the liver, black pepper is used singularly and also in combination with other herbs. Though in almost every Indian home black pepper is present as an important culinary item, given below are some simple tips to gain its medicinal benefits.
To promote appetite and allay distension, a quarter teaspoonful of the powders of both black pepper and white jeera should be taken with butter milk an hour before lunch. Pepper is beneficial in the treatment of cold and fever. In the case of acute running nose accompanied by a headache and bodyache, taking for two or three days warm milk boiled with a pinch of the powders of pepper and turmeric is a tried home remedy. Pepper powder and common salt are an excellent dentifrice, which prevents dental caries, foul breath and painful gums.
Ayurvedic texts says that after mixing black pepper, dry ginger and piper longum (pippali or magh) in equal parts a distinctive combination is achieved which is known as trikatu. Having multiple uses like triphala, trikatu is the drug of choice for diseases like sinusitis, bronchitis, indigestion, urticaria, obesity and many other kapha and vata disorders. To be avoided in severe acidity, it can be taken mixed in honey in a dose of one to two grams twice a day.
There are numerous classic medicines showing the use of black pepper, including the famous Marichyadi Tailam, which is applied externally in various skin diseases. As a single drug dose of black pepper is half to one gram and to counter any troublesome effect, desi ghee is considered to be its anti-dote.
Dr R. Vatsyayan is an
ayurvedic consultant based at Sanjivani Ayurvedic Centre, Ludhiana
(Phones: 423500 and 431500;
Charaka on good company
People whom one should cultivate include those who have grown mature through their intelligence, knowledge, age, behaviour, mindfulness and integrity, who are at peace with all creatures and who have dedicated themselves to honourable goals. Such people promote the true path: there is virtue in merely seeing or hearing them.
Q. What are the ways of recovering from bypass surgery?
A. "Don't go wild", says Dr Harinder Singh Bedi.
Bypass surgery greatly increases the life span and markedly improves the quality of life. However, having had bypass surgery is not an excuse to "go wild". A few commonsense tips will help you go a long way in deriving the maximum benefit from your heart surgery.
1. Total abstinence from smoking: Smoking is the greatest enemy of the post-bypass surgery patient. It hastens the progress of the disease (atherosclerosis) in the native arteries (some of which may have been normal and so were not bypassed) and also in the new grafts. In fact, one of my teachers — Dr Mark Shanahan (Chairman of Cardiac Surgery in Sydney, Australia) — would refuse to operate on any elective patient who would not promise to give up smoking. Besides its deleterious effects on the arteries smoking can cause lung cancer and stomach ulcers.
2. Gradual walking, exercise and return to normal activity: A satisfactory return to normal life is the aim of bypass surgery. Go slow initially, gradually increasing the duration and intensity of the walk/exercise. Choose an activity that you enjoy and can do easily at least three or four times a week. You can practise yoga but avoid the strenuous asanas initially.
3. Stick to a prudent diet: Some dietary restrictions are mandatory even for a healthy adult. Follow the diet chart given to you. Basically avoid saturated fats (ghee and butter),. deep fried food, red meat, egg yolk (you can have two whole eggs a week — if you would like to have more — take only the white of the egg) and overly spicy food. Go up on the consumption of fruits and vegetables.
4. Keep hypertension and diabetes under control: These are two silent killers — and not just of the heart! Both can be easily be controlled by a regular check-up with your primary physician, dietary adjustments and simple medications, if needed.
5. Change of your lifestyle: A heart attack or disease needing bypass surgery should be taken in a positive way by considering it a gentle reprimand from the Almighty God or Nature. Stop abusing your body. Simple lifestyle changes can be of more use than expensive medicines.
Dr Bedi is a senior consultant cardiac surgeon at the Fortis Heart Institute, Mohali (Punjab).