|HEALTH TRIBUNE||Wednesday, April 3, 2002, Chandigarh, India|
Did you ask what’s in a cup of tea?
AYURVEDA & TOTAL HEALTH
Top award for Dr Sunjay Suri
Foetus cries halt to foeticide
INDIA is our mother — Bharat Mata, immortalised in our national song — Vande Mataram. Our heritage asks us to pay the highest regard to women. We vow by our mother. Our history speaks of Maitreyee and Arundhati. Our scriptures speak of Lakshmi, Saraswati and the ultimate source of supreme power — Goddess Durga.
Paradoxically, in today’s materialistic society, women are seen neither as a source of wealth nor as that of wisdom. With the development of all-pervasive patriarchy, women became commodities. In the most perverted and cruelest form of patriarchy, society generated a twin process to get rid of our future mothers, i.e., elimination of unborn daughters through sex-selective abortions and slow-killing of female infants through sheer neglect and discrimination. If this negative trend is continued, (it has already transcended all caste, culture and community barriers), it is sure to precipitate a demographic catastrophe. The issues at stake are numerous — social, demographic, cultural and political. The most urgent are the fundamental right to life, right of equality and survival of half of the humankind.
It is a matter of shame that out of 11 districts with the lowest sex ratio, eight are in Punjab. The causative factors are:
(1). The dowry system: As per IDC survey, every fourth house demands dowry. Every 28th house faces dowry harassment and every 100th house shows a dowry death in Punjab.
(2). The modern family belongs to the person with the highest earning potential. In this patriarchal society, the woman (often a non-earning member) is not a part of the decision-making process of the family. The same, reason shows why tubectomy in a family is preferred to vasectomy. The same reason underlies violence, sexual harassment and discrimination against women. This very reason explains why most of our modern abuses are related to mothers and sisters.
(3). Ignorance about the human rights, fundamental rights and legal rights of the girl child and ignorance about the government’s attitude to such crimes.
(4). Illiteracy among women.
(5). The availability of abortion facilities.
There are legal remedies. The M.T.P. Act (1971) and the P.N.D.T. Act (1994) prohibit female foeticide. The Supreme Court, in May 2001, asked the Union Government to implement the acts with vigour and zeal.
However, legal remedies and official regulations do not percolate to the grassroots level and so are only partially effective. That the problem is sociological is evident from the fact that in most places the rural sex ratio is lower than that in urban areas. This is presumably because of the lack of awareness and the small number of working women in rural areas. Raikot is a town in Ludhiana district, bordering on Sangrur. Both districts have the worst sex ratio. The town has a population of 24,738 with 13,014 males and 11,724 females (sex ratio 1000:903). It is surrounded by villages. The total population of the subdivision is 1,93,381 with 102,372 males and 91009 females (sex ratio 1000:889). However, the under 6 population of the subdivision is 22,037 with 12288 males and 9749 females (sex ratio 1000:793). But the rural under-6 population is 18,362 with 10270 males and 8092 females; the sex ratio is the lowest — 1000:787. Thus it is the rural sector that needs concern, enlightenment and assistance.
This type of social deviance is seen in very materialistic and commercialised societies, the ones that are undergoing a rapid socio-economic transformation. Punjab, a traditionally religious state, is becoming westernised by leaps and bounds. The attendant ill-effects are coming. The only treatment of this social pathology is the spread of education among rural women. The government, in collaboration with NGOs, should take up a project for the development and projection of a positive image of women, the promotion of her status in society so as to make her a part in the decision-making process of the family and the community as well, and thus resulting in true empowerment of women.
Sadbhavna Society, a small NGO in Raikot in remote rural Punjab, is working in this direction. It is working day and night to create self-employment opportunities, to generate job potential and ultimately to promote economic freedom of women. It is setting up vocational institutes for rural women. It has established the Bengal Institute of Nursing Education (for a three-year staff nurse diploma rural girls). The institute is recognised by the Government of Punjab, the Punjab Nursing Council and the Indian Nursing Council. It also has set up the Bengal Institute of Paramedical Training for giving training in medical laboratory technology etc. It has set up the Bengal Institute of Information Technology, affiliated by Electronics Trade &Technology Development Corporation and Maharshi Dayanand University, Rohtak.
Even without legal stipulations, the medical fraternity has to follow the MCI code of conduct, which is violated blatantly in female foeticide. These are:
(1). Evasion of legal restrictions: the physician will observe the laws in regulating the practice and will not assist others to evade such laws.
(2). Exposure of unethical conduct: A physician should expose without fear or favour the incompetent, corrupt, dishonest and unethical conduct of other members of the profession.
Together, we can stop female foeticide. If we have the requisite vision, we can prevent foeticide in all its forms except when it is required for medical reasons.
is a self-limiting viral disease caused by the Varicella virus. It
predominantly affects small children and young persons. Popularly
known as "Chhoti Mata", it has often been confused with
"Badi Mata" (smallpox), a dreaded disease almost eradicated
world over since 1977. The misnomers attributed to these diseases were
due to the belief that the displeasure of certain goddesses was the
reason for their occurrence. Still most people hardly consult their
doctors in the case of chickenpox or measles. They do the traditional
pooja and rub some "Vibhuti" over the lesions, complicating
Chickenpox is highly contagious and infectious. It rapidly spreads through air-borne droplets or by direct contact with the infected fluid of blistered rashes. The patient becomes a source of infection two days before the appearance of eruptions and remains so till scab formation. January to May is the most favourable period for the disease. Immunity is provided to new-born babies from their mothers for the initial few months. Children who suffer from this disease at an early age get lifelong immunity. A few persons who escape the infection during their childhood may get it during adolescence in a much severe form. Its infection during pregnancy may result in abortion or congenital abnormalities in the newborn.
The initial symptoms of the disease usually are in the form of a sudden onset of mild fever with malaise and loss of appetite. The rashes appear on the first day in the form of macules which quickly develop into papules and fluid-filled vesicles which ultimately form scabs. Skin lesions occur in crops for three to four days and can be seen in various stages of development at one time. Their distribution over the body is characteristically centripetal mainly involving the trunk, the back and the shoulders, with few lesions on the face, the neck, the head and the extremities. This pattern is in sharp contrast to smallpox where the lesions are more on the face and the extremities.
The disease is mostly mild and self-limiting. A few cases may develop complications in the form of secondary skin infection, pneumonia or sometimes serious infections of the brain (encephalitis), which may prove fatal. Skin lesions may leave ugly scars causing cosmetic concern later. The infection may remain dormant in some nerve roots and cause herpes zoster or shingles (JANEYU) along the distribution of that nerve in the form of painful lesions. These lesions are also self-limiting but the pain in them may persist for a long period.
It used to be said that if the disease was allowed to occur in childhood, it might provide immunity preventing its occurrence in adolescents and adults when the consequences could be serious. Now with the development of newer forms of vaccine the trend of thinking is shifting towards encouraging vaccination to children and those adults who have escaped infection in their childhood. The vaccine (Varilrix) is available in the form of the live attenuated Okas Strain Varicella virus. The prescribed schedule of vaccination is one dose in children of nine months. The schedule includes 12-year-old persons. Above the age of 13, two doses at an interval of six to 10 weeks are given.
Did you ask what’s in a cup of tea?
THERE are three varieties of teas available across the world, black tea, oolong tea and green tea. Black tea is the predominant category of the tea available worldwide and is consumed typically in the USA, Europe, Africa and India. It is made when fresh tea leaves are taken to a factory where they are withered, mashed or rolled and allowed to ferment. They are then dried. During fermentation, some of the tea tannins form complex theaflavins and other flavonoids, which provide distinctive flavour and colour to the black tea beverage.
Oolong tea is a partially fermented tea product and has a very different flavour. This category of tea is manufactured and consumed in China and Taiwan. Green tea is typically consumed in East Asian Countries and is prepared by processing the fresh tea leaves at high temperatures so that the enzymes responsible for the fermentation are destroyed and this process in the manufacture is omitted.
Currently there is an increasing body of scientific evidence that shows that tea is an abundant source of flavonoid antioxidants and thus an important component of a healthy diet. A number of chronic diseases, for example cardiovascular disease and cancer, have been linked to excess production of free radicals in the body and oxidative damage to biomolecules. An inverse association has been found between flavonoid consumption and the risk of chronic degenerating diseases. The bulk of research on antioxidants to date has been focused on Vitamin C, Vitamin E and Carotenoids. Tea beverage has greater antioxidant capacity than most fruits and vegetables per serving and is more potent than Vitamin C, E and Carotenoids. A cup of tea has been found to be over three times more effective than a serving of most common vegetables and two times more effective than a serving of most common fruits.
The other important component present in tea is caffeine. It is a stimulant to the nervous system and often prevents fatigue, many people find that caffeine appears to facilitate mental work. It has been reported that the tannin content of a cup (150 ml) of infusion varies from 60 to 280 mg. Caffeine contents vary from 50 to 80 mg. The pharmacopoeial dose of caffeine is 60 to 300 mg, so that many cups have to be drunk before this maximum is exceeded.
The main sources of caffeine for an average Indian are tea, coffee, cola beverages and products made from cocoa like chocolates, chocolate-flavoured foods and beverages, coffee flavoured ice-cream etc. Plant variety, geographical location of its cultivation, climate and cultural practices including fermentation process influence the content of caffeine in tea and coffee. The strength of the brew also influences the caffeine content of the beverage consumed. The longer the brewing time of the tea/coffee, the more the caffeine extracted. Low doses of caffeine (20-200mg) generally produce mild positive effects like feelings of well-being and alertness and also make the person feel energetic. Higher doses (200-800mg) can produce negative effects like nervousness and anxiety. Caffeine in very high doses of over ten grams can be fatal. Caffeine produces an increase in gastric secretion of a high acid content, and in large doses may cause marked hyperaemia of the gastric mucosa.
The tea and coffee preparations consumed in India are different from those in the West. Unlike in the West, these are rarely taken without milk in India. Milk’s quantity varies from one half to one fifth of the beverage, thus considerably reducing the caffeine content. Caffeine consumption in India is much lower than that of in the West. Also, coffee is often blended (up to 49%) with chicory powder, which is obtained from the mature roots of the chicory plant. Chicory is added to increase the volume of coffee. It also improves the flavour and keeping quality of the coffee powder. But the best feature is that, added to coffee, it counteracts caffeine and even helps in digestion.
A cup of tea that cheers can cause lead poisoning. The amount of lead leaching out of tea leaves depends directly on the temperature of water used to make the drink and its acidity level. If tea leaves are kept brewing in decoctions at high temperatures, greater leaching of lead is facilitated. The common practice at wayside stalls and even homes of keeping tea brewing in vessels to extract maximum colour is ill advised. In case of lemon tea, the citric acid in lemon not only helps to dissolve lead out from tea but also encourages its absorption in to the body. Drinking tea with milk is a good practice since milk decreases acidity and also inhibits lead absorption. If high level of lead is present in the blood of children, they may suffer mental retardation, anaemia and kidney disorders. Although, lead in samples of Indian tea is within what is considered "maximum permissible limits", its tendency to accumulate in the body is worrisome.
Among the food items rich in fluorides is tea. A cup of tea supplies approximately 0.1 mg of fluoride. When people are addicted to tea, the adult intake from this source may be as much as 1 mg daily. A high content of fluoride in water and food materials is the main cause of fluorosis in the human population. The manner in which tea is generally prepared (by adding calcium-rich milk and sugar) may somewhat nullify its harmful effects and in this way people may also obtain a significant addition to their intake of energy and protein.
We used to think that coffee raises blood pressure and may cause cardiovascular disease. But tea is harmless. Scientific evidence indicates that coffee too turns out to be pretty harmless. But it does not provide any benefit. Black, green and oolong teas are high in flavonoids, which may protect the heart.
Tannin in tea has been reported to decrease the solubility of iron and other minerals from the diet of children. So tea should not be served to young children. It has been advised that the beverage should be prepared at a low temperature, never allowed to decoct for long and that it should be consumed in moderation with plenty of milk.
AYURVEDA & TOTAL HEALTH
BANSA is probably one of the first Indian medicinal plants which went into commercial utilisation. About one hundred year ago, a few readymade caugh syrups which contained it as the chief ingredient hit the market. Even today, a number of proprietary expectorant formulations using it are being sold in the country.
Called by many names such as vasa, vasaka and sinhasya in Sanskrit, Adhatoda vasica scientifically and basuti in popular terms, Bansa is a two to four feet tall dense shrub which grows in wastelands throughout the plains and foothills of India. Depending upon its colour, it has two varieties — white and black. Fresh or dried leaves, flowers and the root of the plant are used as medicine.
Ayurvedic texts have described Bansa as a cure for diseases arising from vitiated kapha and pitta. It is bitter and astringent in taste and dry, light and cold in effect. Its chemical composition consists of an alkaloid known as vascine which is considered to be its main active principle. Bansa also contains a volatile oil, resin and an acid named adhatodic.
Ancient authors have explored its medicinal value and described it as an excellent expectorant a bronchodilator, a respiratory and cardiac stimulant and an antispasmodic agent. Experimental studies have shown that Bansa is also endowed with anti-diabetic, blood pressure-lowering antacid, antiviral and anticonvulsant effects. Charaka has specifically attributed antipyretic and cooling properties to this plant.
Bansa is extensively used in Ayurveda as a sedative and an expectorant and also as a remedy for cough, bronchitis and asthma. It removes respiratory spasms and relieves irritable cough by its soothing action and softens the sputum which makes expectoration easier. Bansa is widely used in jaundice and raktapitta (haemorrhagic disorders). It is helpful in controlling diarrhoea and dysentery and some skin problems too.
In bronchitis and asthma simply taking two times a day 10 to 20, ml of the juice of Bansa mixed with one teaspoonfuls of honey, proves beneficial. If the phlegm is more sticky, one gram of the powder of black pepper can be mixed in it. In associated feverish conditions, this regime can be fortified by adding one teaspoonful of fresh ginger juice. A jushanda of bansa leaves, banfsha, mulethi, nilofer and a few pieces of unnab helps remove the spasm and facilitates gentle cleaning of the bronchial tree.
Bansa is also recommended in many other diseases, like epistaxis, dysfunctional uterine bleeding Burning Hands and Feet Syndrome, and diarhhoea or dysentery. A simple decoction of its leaves can be taken independently or as a vehicle with any other suitable medicine. The average daily dose of its fresh juice is 10 to 20 ml two or three times a day. Overdose may result in nausea or vomiting.
Bansa is used in many classic ayurvedic medicines. To name a few Vasavaleha, Vasakarishta and Bansa Kshar are used for respiratory problems. Darvyadi Qwath is given in uterine diseases and Panchtikta Ghrit Guggul is prescribed in stubborn skin diseases. Bansa is a natural germicidal like neem and is toxic to all forms of lower life. Rural people use its fresh or dry leaves to preserve water, food, clothes etc.
Top award for Dr Sunjay Suri
The "2001 Gold Circle Award" of the American Society of Association Executives, the leading organisation to which virtually all the professional associations in the USA belong, has been given to "Orthodontic Care for Children with Special Needs", a scientific article written by Dr Sunjay Suri, an eminent orthodontist from Chandigarh.
The article was described as "the
best scientific article published by any professional association in
the year 2001." The "Good Circle Award" is the top ASAE
honour. Dr Suri has returned to India after completing two advanced
fellowships at the University of North California, Chapel Hill, USA,
and The Hospital for Sick Children, University of Toronto, Canada. He
is a consultant at Fortis, Mohali, Punjab.