|HEALTH TRIBUNE||Wednesday, January 2, 2002, Chandigarh, India|
We can overcome mindís blight
A diet for the joints: you can safely go to
work on an egg
AYURVEDA & TOTAL HEALTH
HOMOEOPATHY: SOME TIPS
Secret of positive health
A young man went to a doctor and asked him about his chances of living a hundred years. "Very bright," said the doctor, "you certainly can live a 100 years, but I can't.
The young man looked puzzled, "If you, with all the knowledge and wisdom cannot expect to live to 100 years, how can I?"
The doctor explained, "When I was born, the Science of Medicine was still struggling to come of age. The facts now known were not known then. From today's standards, the knowledge was primitive and inadequate. You can imagine the inadequacy of knowledge from the fact that antibiotics came two decades after my birth. I have lived my life according to the norms then available to me. I cannot change my past nor erase its effects. But you have the advantage of new knowledge. Use it to your best advantage and it will take you to 100 years."
Advances in the field of medicine and related sciences have already doubled the life expectancy all over the world. Even in India, with all the problems of poverty and overcrowding, an average person can expect to live to 70 years or so. Imagine if all the new knowledge were put into proper use by individuals to prevent disease and degeneration, and suitable modifications made in the life style, food, work, etc in the light of new knowledge and insights, how many more fruitful years could be added to our life-span and how much more healthy they would be.
The secret of health lies within us; disease comes from without. Nature has endowed us with an efficient system of fighting disease and damage repair. If we do no more than allow nature to look after us, we will be healthier and live longer.
An animal is best in its natural habitat and with its natural food. "The moment you put it in a zoo, it loses its health and stamina in spite of the best of conditions provided to him. Come out of the cage in which you have imprisoned yourself and discover for yourself what Mother Nature can do for you.
The zoo alluded to above is made of man-made materials and practices ó overcrowded houses in large overcrowded and polluted cities, overeating of rich fatty food made from chemical fertilisers and preserved with chemicals, dangerous permissive sexual practices, stress at home and work, smoking and drinking etc.
We are in fact living in a zoo of our own making. This is where disease, decay, early burn-out and early old age lie. Free yourself from these shackles as much as you can, and cultivate positive health by the means which nature has provided you. These are:
This article has been made out of "Healthy Longevity" by
Dr G.D. Thapar. The book has been published by India Book Distributors
(Bombay) Ltd (IBD). It is priced at Rs 195 (ISBN81-7310-147-7). The
Tribune expresses its gratitude to the author who has written
illuminating articles for it for permitting it to publish the
invaluable extract (before a review).
We can overcome mindís blight
AS I said last week, too much stress proves harmful. Each one of us has a given capacity to face stress. Some can tolerate a higher level of stress; others become completely disorganised and breakdown even with low levels of stress. I have come across many women with chronic anxiety states. Minor stress breaks them down. Simple routine comments by their mothers-in-law, sisters-in-law or husbands irritate them beyond imaginable limits. Some are emotionally highly strung; they turn suicidal or hostile and cause a tragic loss to their kins.
The effect of the rat race: What to talk of a common man, even doctors, who have expertise in treating other patients, suffer from ever-mounting stress. The medical profession has become highly stressful. Competition in private enterprise has greatly affected doctors and some of them are severely affected by the rising levels of stress. In private hospitals their performance is constantly assessed by the establishment. They find themselves directly in competition with their senior colleagues, who have already got themselves established in private practice. In this rat race some turn workaholic and forget that holidays and vacation are important to refresh them.
Rest and leisure, particularly in stressful surroundings, are like a tonic to the body and the mind. In a short span only, smiling faces and athletic builds are replaced by pale looks, bulging bellies and the early greying of hair. They look older than their age. Overstrain for want of exercise, overeating, a high intake of alcohol and the mania for money wear them out. They become mechanical, lose the human touch and are like cogs in the wheels of their own creation. Robotism leads to a process of decay and degeneration. It results in social inequilibrium and perversion of human relations. No wonder, dependence on alcohol and drugs lead to psychosomatic ailments, marital discord and frequent separations.
Stress is our own creation: Patients with chronic fatigue are completely drained out. They blame their work for their psychological state. They are besieged by problems related to their work and some of them are obsessed to do their best and compete with others. They thus wear themselves out to a pathetic state. Surprisingly, most of them keep on increasing their work by expanding their business, thinking that the greater success may bring them greater joy and peace. But this decision only aggravates their problems and tensions. To a number of them I have been regularly advising holidays, short breaks, exercise or games. They simple express their inability to do so for want of time. They are unable to visualise the self-defeating role of their activities. They are unable to come out of the mess they have created for themselves. They are also unable to have rest for two or three days, forgetting that a heart attack or a stroke would confine them to bed for weeks or months.
No doubt, tension forms the curse of modern life. But to a large extent, it is the Frankenstein monster of our own creation. Never-ending desires, negative emotions, higher expectations, professional rivalry and jealousy are responsible for it. Our failure to see ourselves in a proper perspective and our ambition to get rich quick have led us into a blind alley. Running after the mirage, man has forgotten to live in harmony with the universe.
The alarming trend in drugs: In general medical practice as even in its specialised areas, there is an increasing trend towards the over-prescription of tranquillisers or sedatives. This is a matter of great concern. Few doctors hesitate to prescribe such drugs to children. Certain brands like Alprax, Trika, Calmpose and Restyle have become household names. Businessmen and professionals almost all of them, are familiar with these tension-relieving drugs, but these innocuous looking small tablets are not as benign as they seem to be. They have their side-effects. These are mind-altering drugs. Dependence on them has become a common phenomenon. Some people remain addicted to them throughout their lives. Gradually, their performance shows a downhill course. Their threshold of stress, tolerance becomes low. I have broached this issue with my medical colleagues. They feel it becomes necessary to prescribe such drugs frequently because more and more patients are reporting anxiety symptoms.
The awareness of stress and its impact on human health and happiness have become essential in our routine-ridden life. Try to understand the positive as well as the harmful role of stress in your life. To recognise its impact will mean that you have already won half the battle.
A diet for the joints: you can safely go to
IF you are feeling winter in your bones, a diet that keeps weight down and fatty acids up, may be the answer.
What a spirit-dampener the rain is! Not only that, but wet weather makes many peopleís bones and joints ache. If, however, you suffer from osteoarthritis, a degenerative condition that becomes more prevalent with age, the wet winter months can be pure torture - which is why autumn is a good time to put some pain-relieving strategies into place.
First, it may help to understand the causes and effects of osteoarthritis, which differs from rheumatoid arthritis and other arthritic conditions, including gout. Osteoarthritis develops when the cartilage around the joints, especially weight-bearing joints such as the knees and hips, wears away and new bone tissue grows beneath it, preventing the joints from moving as smoothly as they should, and causing painful inflammation to take hold. Over time, the joints may become distorted, causing further agony as muscles become strained and nerves become trapped.
A major problem that results from osteoarthritis is that, because the pain discourages movement, weight can pile on, causing the joints - particularly the knees - to be placed under even greater strain, thus increasing the inflammation and pain. Itís a vicious circle, and, if you recognise this scenario, the first thing to do is to tackle the weight problem.
Your aim should be to lose weight sensibly and healthily. I sometimes receive requests from doctors to help overweight osteoarthritic patients to lose unachievable amounts of weight (over a stone in a month, for example). Although I agree that operating on a diseased joint is risky if the patient is obese, I think that setting an unrealistic goal only depresses the individual.
Losing weight by going on a crash diet will, furthermore, leave you feeling drained and too weak to do any exercise to keep your joints moving and burn off the calories. Instead, itís far better to aim to lose a kilo (just over 2lb) a week by eating sensibly and following a healthy lifestyle.
A good diet should include plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, but some people who suffer from osteoarthritis report that oranges, tomatoes and other acidic foods exacerbate their symptoms. (If you suspect that a particular food triggers yours, keep a food diary to track the relationship between what you eat and drink and how you feel.)
We donít understand exactly why, but one dietary method of alleviating osteoarthritic pain appears to be increasing your intake of oily fish, such as sardines, mackerel, salmon, pilchards and tuna - probably because the omega-3 fatty acids that they contain stimulate the body to produce inflammation-reducing, painkilling prostaglandins. If worries about exposing your body to toxic levels of pollutants have put you off eating oily fish, you may be reassured to hear that, according to the agencies Iíve spoken to, you can safely eat oily fish a couple of times a week (and I continue to eat it on a regular basis).
Other people, especially those who arenít keen on fish, may prefer to glean anti-inflammatory, prostaglandin-producing agents from such supplements as omega-3 oil, or oil of evening primrose (which contains omega-6 fatty acids). The optimum daily doses are 600mg of omega-3 oil or 2,000-4,000mg of evening primrose oil.
Wearing a copper wristband may help to fend off arthritic aches and pains, although again we donít fully understand why, apart from surmising that the absorption of a small amount of copper through the skin reduces the inflammatory reaction.
Q: Dear Jane, Iím confused by the issue of cholesterol in eggs and seafood, as my doctor insists that I should avoid these foods completely. Is it necessary to be so strict?
A: I donít want to contradict your doctorís advice, but it depends on your cholesterol level: if itís worryingly high, or a genetic predisposition poses a potential risk to your health, many doctors would advocate avoiding all cholesterol-containing foods.
Although eggs, seafood and offal are all rich in cholesterol, the body usually breaks it down before it can have an adverse effect on the level of LDL (low-density lipoprotein, the `badí fat) in the blood. I therefore assure most of my patients with high LDL levels that they can still enjoy moderate amounts of these foods, but should instead concentrate on avoiding the real culprits when it comes to blocking blood vessels: butter, cream, cheese and fatty meat.
You should also keep your circulation healthy by boosting your intake of such antioxidants as vitamin C, beta carotene, vitamin E, selenium and allicin (which garlic, leeks and onions provide), all of which guard against your blood vessels becoming blocked by LDL.
Iíd recommend eating oily fish and wholegrains (along with lots
of water to encourage the fibre to swell in your stomach), too. If you
manage to follow all of this advice, I reckon that you can safely go
to work on an egg. ó ONS
AYURVEDA & TOTAL HEALTH
SIX orthodox thought systems existed in ancient India. Of these, Sankhya philosophy (the school of rational thought) postulated by Maharshi Kapil forms the basis of ayurvedic beliefs. It reflects the ideas regarding how things came into being.
The rishis understood the universe in terms of five primordial elements or panchamahabhutas ó agni (fire), vayu (air,), prithvi (earth), jala (water) and akasha (ether or space). Everything in the universe is composed of these five elements. In the heavens they appear as the sun, the moon and the air. Fire is the source of energy and is equated with the sun. Water and earth combine to give us the moon, which cools and preserves the universe. And finally the wind, a combination of air and space, is responsible for the propulsion and dynamism of the universe.
The theory of the five elements can be explained better in relation to a small atom. Fire, the source of energy in an atom, is equated with the energy needed or generated by its electrons. The dynamism of air is exhibited by the mobility of the electrons. The inter or intra orbital space in an atom represents space. The nucleus depicts the heaviness of earth whereas the cohesion of the atomic structure displays the qualities of water.
Ayurveda makes us understand this complex structural interface in a broader perspective. According to sutras, "Yat pinde tat brahmande" or "Yat brahmande tat pinde": what we call the universe is our body or what is known as the body is the universe. This primordial cohesion, which is also the subject of each of the five sense organs, can be comprehended better if we look at it right from the level of the cellular structure.
Within a simple single living cell the earth element predominates by giving a structure the cell. The water element is present in the cytoplasm or the liquid within the cell membrane. Fire regulates the metabolic processes in the cell. The air element predominates the gases therein and the space occupied by the cell denotes the last of the elements.
In the case of a composite and multi-cellular organism as a human being, earth manifests itself in the solid structures of the body like flesh, bones, cartilages, teeth, hair etc. Air is responsible for all the bodily movements and fire denotes the functioning of the enzymes and the metabolic process. Plasma, saliva, mucous and all other fluids correspond with water and space is represented by the body channels and the cavities.
Ayurveda believes that the plant kingdom too exhibits the presence of these five elements. This is the commonality we share with the herbs and it is this mutuality which makes the basis of our give-and-take with nature. The modern concept of primary plant metabolites and the secondary metabolites fully backs the ayurvedic view point.
Omnipresent, these elements are mixed in an infinite variety of proportion that each form of matter is distinctly unique. Constantly changing and interacting with one another, they create a situation of a dynamic flux that keeps the world going. To perform the physiological functions, these five elements form three vital energies or tridosha ó vata, pitta and kapha. Keeping in view the numerous queries of our readers, we shall briefly discuss this tridosha theory in the next article.
Dr R. Vatsyayan is an ayurvedic consultant based at the Sanjivani Ayurvedic Centre, Ludhiana. (Phones: 423500&431500; E-mail- firstname.lastname@example.org).
Oration & award
This year's prestigious biennial Dr P.N. Raju Oration Award of the ICMR has been given to Dr J.S. Saini, MD, FIACLE, President of the Eye Bank Association of India and Additional Professor in the Department of Ophthalmology, PGI, Chandigarh.
A low-profile, polite and diligent eye specialist and one of our valued contributors for the good of the public, Dr Saini has been instrumental in developing the critical and demanding specialties of cornea transplants, eye banking and phacoemusification. He is now in the process of developing state-of-the art facilities of refractive surgery and a school of optometry at the PGI. We wish him greater success and elevation to still higher positions.
Saint of the slums
The Tribune has received numerous greetings for Dr (Brig) M.L. Kataria, the one-man NGO who has transformed the health-care scene in North India through years of tireless voluntary work, 365 days every year for 25 years. We add our own New Year good wishes to those we have received for the legendary man ó MRCP, D. Litt, MBA, etc! ó called the ďSaint of the slums.Ē
Hope for the old
ďOn the basis of my large experience of a good completeness of recovery and excellent functional results, the elderly patients should be offered CABG without regard to age alone and with good expectations of excellent post-op recovery and improved longevity. Referral for surgery, especially in those already hospitalised, should be encouraged both for patient benefit and for reducing costs.Ē
HOMOEOPATHY: SOME TIPS
NUX Vomica is a remedy for many conditions of modern life. The typical Nux patient does a good deal of mental work. He has mental strains and leads a sedentary life. He is engaged in prolonged office work, deep study and close application to business with its attendant cares and anxieties. Indoor life and mental strain seek stimulants ó coffee, wine, possibly in excess; or again, he hopes to quieten his excitement by indulging in the "pleasures" of tobacco. He may become a victim of seductive drugs like opium.
These things are associated with other indulgences. At the table, he takes, preferably, rich and stimulating food. Wine plays a part in making him forget the stress of the day. Late hours are a consequence; a thick head, sluggish digestion (constipation, acidity and excessive gas formation), and irritable temper are the next day's lot. Nux Vomica 200, one dose at night for a week, with rest and no stimulants, can wash away the blues.
Acidity tends to have a much higher incidence in highly emotional and nervous individuals. The consumption of alcohol, highly spicy foodstuff, non-vegetarian diets, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) also predispose one to gastric acidity. Natrum Phos leads a group of homoeopathic medicines used against acidity. The indications for its use include: a burning sensation in the chest behind the sternum (breast-bone) which can originate from the stomach and extend even to the throat; this burning may also be accompanied by sour vomiting, and often a yellow creamy-coated tongue; Natrum Phos 30c four times a day for a week will reduce the acidity.
Another homoeopathic medicine, Arsenic Album, is well suited only if these symptoms occur around midnight ó the 30c potency of Arsenic Album can be used in a similar way. A suitable diet must be strictly followed, avoiding spicy, salty and acidic food. Smoking and alcohol must be stopped. Those with a highly nervous and emotional disposition and those involved in high-stress jobs must be encouraged to take lifestyle-modifying measures.
ó Dr Vikas Sharma, 1290, Sector
21-B, Chandigarh (721501)