HEALTH TRIBUNE Wednesday, April 10, 2002, Chandigarh, India
 

Addicts burn their candles of life at both ends
Dr Rajeev Gupta, MD

  • A 14-year-old school-going boy from Malerkotla is hooked onto the most potent narcotic injection, Norphine. He has been taking two or three shots a day for about a year.

  • A 15-year-old student from Ludhiana district is taking more than one bottle of liquor daily.

  • A Ludhiana girl (18), coming from an upper middle class family, has been regularly taking three to four pegs of whisky for more than one year.

Punjab: the drugged state
Drs A.K. Banerjee and
Dr Madhu Meeta Banerjee
A
ddiction is the biggest social menace today. Unless tackled and eradicated rapidly, this will engulf the aged and the young, the poor and the rich, the urban people and the rural ones, men and women, and all classes of society.

More benefits from ageless and humble aspirin
A
spirin, it seems, may have more benefits than known to us. A recent research has found evidence that the drug can block the spread of harmful viruses as well.

Dangerous exercises
Dr Ravinder Chadha
I
often come across friends or patients with the common complaint that in spite of their daily exercises they are not getting the desired results. Sometimes, after doing exercises, they feel either pain or stiffness in their muscles, joints and back. These problems can only come when the exercises are done without a proper warming up, stretching etc.

EYECARE
Computer and our eyesight problems
Dr G. S. Dhami
T
hough modern lifestyle has given us a lot of comfort and good things, it has brought in many types of stress and strain. We have adopted computers in a big way and many among us sit for long hours opposite those shining black and white or coloured screens. Both visually normal individuals and persons who wear glasses report that the constant use of computer results in strain on the eyes.

AYURVEDA & TOTAL HEALTH
Manjishtha for charm & stimulus
Vaidya Shiromani Dr R. Vatsyayan, Ayurvedacharya
Commonly called majeeth but scientifically known as Rubia cordifolia, manjishtha is one of the foremost curative herbs used by ancient ayurvedic physicians. Its big climber plant is found up to the height of 8,000 feet in the hilly areas of the Indian subcontinent. The root of manjishtha is used as medicine.

 

 

 
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Addicts burn their candles of life at both ends
Dr Rajeev Gupta, MD

  • A 14-year-old school-going boy from Malerkotla is hooked onto the most potent narcotic injection, Norphine. He has been taking two or three shots a day for about a year.

  • A 15-year-old student from Ludhiana district is taking more than one bottle of liquor daily.

  • A Ludhiana girl (18), coming from an upper middle class family, has been regularly taking three to four pegs of whisky for more than one year.

The above cases may look queer but they are true.

The ground realities have certain startling things to convey.

Today, such cases are becoming common in medical and psychiatric clinics in rural and urban Punjab. The fast emerging cases of young addicts are becoming painful realities. It is difficult to imagine the pain and desperation on the faces of the parents who keep on running from pillar to post to seek relief for their addicted children.

Unable to come out of this mess, they keep blaming themselves and suffer from a severe guilt feelings. They enter dark whirlpools from where they are unable to come out.

Completely benumbed by the drug habits of their young children the mood of the parents oscillates between anger and hostility on the one hand and depression, frustration, rejection, withdrawal and complete apathy on the other hand. For most of the parents and their affected children today is the time to act. Tomorrow will be too late.

I must admit that for me, as a psychiatrist, it is a painful and disturbing experience to treat young addicts. Every addicted young person gives me deep anguish from which I take quite some time to recover

I have tried to give a close look to the problem. I find the following reasons responsible for this fast-growing menace.

The changing value system:

The value system is changing fast in Indian society. In the mad race for acquiring (and hoarding) every possible object of comfort and luxury, irrespective of the availability of the means, most of us have forgotten that discipline and character do not grow in a vacuum. Parents bring brief cases or bags full of tainted money from their offices. They do not have any idea of the fact that their corrupt practices can pollute the innocent minds of their children.

Can a father gulping down a bottle of hard liquor every evening imagine that his children will turn alcoholics or addicts?

Drugs are easily available:

Intoxicants are freely available at every nook and corner of our towns. Selling drugs has become a lucrative business. Driven by the profit motive, the sellers hardly have any qualms. When their own children get affected by addictive tablets, capsules or injections, they have no guts to reprimand them. Pharmaceutical houses marketing such drugs do not take effective steps to rationalise or regulate their supplies.

The role of the media:

Television acts like second parenthood. Children get glued to TV sets whenever they have any free time and their minds get influenced by the pictures of those who are shown as getting thrills out of alcohol and prohibited drugs. Advertisements turn into invitations. Inadequate monitoring of cable channels has brought seductive narcotic images into our bedrooms and drawing rooms. Such shows were unheard of decade ago.

The burden of studies:

Education has become a flourishing trade today and in its processes children are being forced towards the extremes. Every effort is made to stuff the young brains with junk information. School syllabi, as these stand today, have no place for an average student. Propelled by the ruthlessness of the ambitious parents and the completely unimaginative education system, mediocre students are compelled to become rebellious and resentful. They drive themselves deep into the world of drug.

The snowballing effect:

It is commonly observed that drug addicts produce more drug addicts and the process adds up to millions. Every drug addict ensures that he has introduced his class fellows and friends to drugs. This makes him feel guiltless and comfortable. Addicts form small groups of their own and feel at ease in these. Thus the growth of addicts follows a geometrical progression and their number grows fast. I know one such addict in Ludhiana. He introduced smack to not less than 30 boys in the city alone. Such wicked examples are numerous.

Note: The purpose of this article is to make The Tribune readers in particular sensitive to this issue. I feel that there is a growing need to have an extensive sociological study to make a proper assessment of the reasons of the fast-spreading drug addiction problem among the young. Deaddiction centres are not enough. Effective preventive and remedial strategies are direly needed. At MANAS in Ludhiana, I have lost my sleep.
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Punjab: the drugged state
Drs A.K. Banerjee and
Dr Madhu Meeta Banerjee

Addiction is the biggest social menace today. Unless tackled and eradicated rapidly, this will engulf the aged and the young, the poor and the rich, the urban people and the rural ones, men and women, and all classes of society.

Drug addiction is defined as a disease of chronic or periodic intoxication, detrimental to the individual and society, produced by the repeated intake of habit-forming drugs. To call a person an addict the following criteria must be kept in view.

1. Psychological dependence:overpowering desire to obtain and take the drug.

2. Physical dependence: With the stoppage of the drug, withdrawal symptoms appear.

3. Development of tolerance: a tendency to increase the dose.

Punjab is perhaps the most religious and moralistic state. It was free from addiction until recently. The reasons for this paradoxical surge in the incidence of addiction are:

a) Sudden agricultural and economic development, resulting in cultural metamorphosis to western beliefs, styles and the affluent attitude to alcohol as a status symbol.

b) Influx of migrant labourers, importing tobacco and smoking.

c) Smuggling of opium and opioids across the border.

d) OTC sale of narcotic drugs, violating the NDPS Act.

e) Unemployment and frustration among students and youths. Immature minds fall prey to the allurement of a false sense of security, escapism and tranquility provided by drugs.

The addiction of any of the family members, with the passage of time, ruins the family altogether. It ultimately affects the mental, physical, social, moral and spiritual health. Particularly prone are the women and children who are silent sufferers. The literacy, health and hygiene standards are poor. Malnutrition, mental disease and criminal tendency too are common.

The remedy needs a multipronged strategy.

Model 1: A system of laws and strict control, making it illegal to manufacture, store, distribute and consume inebrients.

Model 2: Indoctrination and information about ill-effects, thus leading to moderation or abstinence.

Model 3: Legal regulation of the kind of narcotic; the cost factor, methods of sale; the time and place of drinking, availability to the customer according to age.

Model 4: Substitution by functional equivalents, counter-attractions; sports, books, spiritualism, gardening, travel etc.

Sadbhavna Society, a small NGO at Raikot took up the task of deaddiction campaign some time ago. It is running the Bengal Institute of Nursing Education; Bengal Institute of Paramedical Training; the Bengal Institute of Information and Technology; and the Bengali Hospital, Raikot. It intends to set up a rural centre for deaddiction and rehabilitation. It will be followed by door-to-door education of the high-risk group by trained counsellors. This will also be a programme for the mobilisation of mass opinion against addiction. To assess the prevalence in the area the society conducted a social survey cum field study, employing a personal contact programme, using interview techniques in a sample population of 1052 people, chosen by the random selection method.

Among the 1052 persons interviewed, 792 were addicts; thus the incidence is 75.28%. Among 940 men, 733 were addicts; thus incidence among men is 79%. The incidence among women is 52.7%. The prevalence of addiction in age groups below 20 years is 65%. The incidence between 20 to 40 years is the highest 75.85%. In majority of them (82%), the father is also an addict. The incidence between 40 to 60 years is 75.40%. Farmers and labourers are the commonest targets.

The incidence of alcoholism among the general population is 24.7%. Those of tobacco is 17.58%, narcotics 14.82%, opioid (post, bukki, sukha etc.) 9.5% and opium 0.47%. There are 7.8% people who take whatever substance is available. The prevalence in a Scheduled Castes locality is 95.78% and in a particular Scheduled Tribes community it is 82.05%.

These findings are unfortunate and call for an effective combat strategy that involves NGO, socially conscious donors, Government administration and religio-political leadership. The vulnerable groups and risk factors are to be identified. Rational thinking is to be promoted and strong mass opinion has to be mobilised. A task force medical social workers and rehabilitation specialists is to be trained to wage a socio-medical war against addiction. Only operational research and a determined approach can lead us to the ultimate goal: "Drug-free Punjab".

The duo, Dr A.K. Banerjee, MS, and Dr Madhu Meeta, MD, are doing dedicated deaddiction service from Raikot in Punjab. Dr Banerjee was honoured by UNICEF at Moga recently for his missionary zeal and expertise.


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More benefits from ageless and humble aspirin

Aspirin, it seems, may have more benefits than known to us. A recent research has found evidence that the drug can block the spread of harmful viruses as well.

A team of researchers from New Jersey Medical School in the US carried out laboratory tests on the drug generally used as an anti-inflammatory and has a significant impact on patients suffering from heart disease.

Their findings prove that the drug can block the reproduction of cytomegalovirus (CMV). A large number of people carry the virus and it lies dormant in most attacking only when the immune system is weakened, by, for example, HIV or anti-rejection transplant drugs. Foetuses infected with the virus in the womb, because of their undeveloped immune systems, can suffer permanent disability, says a report in BBC.

The US researchers suggest that body chemicals which cause inflammation in the tissues are actually vital to the replication of the virus. Reducing inflammation, with a drug such as aspirin, cuts off the supply of these chemicals, called prostaglandins.

Treating virus-infected human skin tissue with this type of drug in the laboratory "significantly reduced" virus production, they reported in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

They suggest it could be given both to patients suffering from active CMV disease, perhaps in tandem with traditional antiviral drugs, or even to those infected and thought to be at risk of developing full-blown illness. There is strong evidence that heart transplant patients infected with CMV are more likely to suffer atherosclerosis - hardened arteries - than those without the virus. It is suspected that latent CMV may contribute to this cause of heart disease in everyday, non-transplant, patients.

Further testing may reveal whether the "aspirin effect" on coronary heart disease patients is due in part to beneficial effects on patients with undetected CMV, as well as the more obvious effect of making blood cells less likely to stick together and block narrowed arteries.

According to Professor Paul Griffiths, a researcher in CMV from the Royal Free and University College Medical School in north London, "CMV is an important and under researched pathogen which often does not signal its presence in humans. "However, in some patients it can have consequences which are quite severe, such as graft rejection and perhaps even atherosclerosis."

He said, however, that there was insufficient evidence of benefit to suggest that anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin should be used by patients routinely - just in case CMV was present, as all drugs carry side-effects. ANI


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Dangerous exercises
Dr Ravinder Chadha

I often come across friends or patients with the common complaint that in spite of their daily exercises they are not getting the desired results .Sometimes, after doing exercises, they feel either pain or stiffness in their muscles, joints and back. These problems can only come when the exercises are done without a proper warming up, stretching etc. Warming-up activities such as walking, slow jogging or bicycling are aimed at increasing blood circulation and preparing muscles for stretching. A warm muscle exhibits a greater amount of flexibility, thereby protecting one against injury and increasing performance.

Stretching is important because it reduces muscle tension, maintains flexibility and reduces or prevents muscle soreness. Moreover, proper techniques are essential for achieving success. Incomplete or wrong exercises can cause bad postures, low back pain, over-stretching of the ligaments, instability of the joints etc. Exercises like hanging inversion (shirshasana), the topsy-turvy position, i.e legs up and head down, to improve the blood circulation of the brain can cause an increase in the blood pressure. It may rupture small blood vessels in the eyes and may also cause injuries to the spine. Similarly, forming a bridge in Yoga chakrasana (wheel posture) is a very tough exercise which can only be performed by a flexible person. Otherwise, it can cause pressures on the spinal disc and the nerve fibres. Certain bad exercises have to be avoided I shall explain them later.

Dr Ravinder Chadha is a former doctor/physio of Indian cricket teams (1998-2000).


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EYECARE
Computer and our eyesight problems
Dr G. S. Dhami

Though modern lifestyle has given us a lot of comfort and good things, it has brought in many types of stress and strain. We have adopted computers in a big way and many among us sit for long hours opposite those shining black and white or coloured screens. Both visually normal individuals and persons who wear glasses report that the constant use of computer results in strain on the eyes.

While working on the sets we continually stare at the screens. The normal process of blinking, which lubricates our eyes with the natural tear film that contains proteins as nourishment, oil and fat cells as lubricants and enzymes as disinfectant, gets disturbed. Owing to the absence or irregular distribution of the tear film there is a feeling of discomfort or tiredness in our eyes.

The prevailing atmosphere in the computer room where we use fans and airconditioners which sometimes directly blow air into our eyes enhances the problem of the dryness of the eyes. The straight back and neck posture too results in cervical stiffness, which eventually leads to the headache and heavy eye-strain. This Computer Vision Syndrome can be effectively tackled by following a few tips:

  • Everybody working on computers should read and work on the system with eyes slightly looking down. This position is ideal for gazing at computers because it helps us to have less exposure of the eye and avoid the evaporation of tears.

  • One should avoid prolonged stares at the computer screen. Blinking not only relaxes our eyes but also helps us to lubricate and cleanse the cornea.

  • Avoid facing a direct flow of air from the fan, airconditioner or window. Keep the workplace clean by keeping tobacco, smoke and dust away. Take care to adopt easy postures as these help us to allay strain, stiffness and fatigue. A few flexing exercises of yoga can be practised while sitting in a chair which definitely relaxes the tense muscles.

  • Wear correct refraction of spectacles if you are using them. Persons above 40 years of age usually need reading lenses adjusted to the distance of the screen and the reading material on the table.

  • Avoid self-medication and random use of eye-drops. It is better to consult an ophthalmologist and have an eye checkup regularly.

Dr Dhami, MD, belongs to Kitchlu Nagar, Ludhiana. He is a well-known eye specialist.


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AYURVEDA & TOTAL HEALTH
Manjishtha for charm & stimulus
Vaidya Shiromani Dr R. Vatsyayan, Ayurvedacharya

Commonly called majeeth but scientifically known as Rubia cordifolia, manjishtha is one of the foremost curative herbs used by ancient ayurvedic physicians. Its big climber plant is found up to the height of 8,000 feet in the hilly areas of the Indian subcontinent. The root of manjishtha is used as medicine.

Varnya (improving the complexion), rakta prasadaka (a booster of the haemopoietic system), rakta shodhaka (a blood purifier) and vishaghna (a detoxifier):that is how manjishtha has been described in revered ayurvedic texts. It is also an astringent antiseptic, a carminative, a digestive and an haemostatic agent. Some acharyas, while attributing anti-inflammatory and uterine stimulant properties to manjishtha, have written that it is a bitter tonic also.

Though manjishtha is at the same time bitter, astringent and sweet in taste and heavy, dry and hot in effect, it is a pacifier of kapha and pitta. Besides the glucosides known as manjisthin and purpurine, its chemical composition consists of various other components which include resins, lime salts and colouring agents. Manjishtha is used in a number of diseases. It is a drug of choice for treating various systemic problems like raised uric acid and gouty arthritis, glandular swellings, recurrent skin infections and other diseases of the skin like pigmentation anomalies and leucoderma. It is also included in various formulations to treat uterine and urinary infections, diarrhoea, dysentery and chronic fevers. Manjishtha holds the reputation of a very good skincare herb. Used externally and internally, it helps one to gain lustre and glow (of the skin) and aids to remove pimples, freckles and discoloration.

Manjishtha promotes the healing of skin tissues damaged by injury or infection. Its finely crushed powder can be simply applied on the face after mixing it with little honey. A combination of dried and crushed orange peels 100 gm, and sandal powder, turmeric and manjishtha powders each 50 gm, makes an excellent face pack.

Since manjishtha has a marked effect on the female reproductive organs, it is useful treating various gynaecological problems, like white discharge and irregular menstruation. To treat stubborn pelvic inflammation taking two or three times a day 2 gm of the powder of manjishtha, ashoka, daru haridra, nagkeshar and lodhra, all crushed in equal parts, have very good results. A decoction of manjishtha, giloy and gokharu can be given in chronic urinary infections occurring in both males and females.

Brihad Manjishthadi Qwath, mentioned in the Sharangdhar Samhita, is the most famous classic ayurvedic formulation which contains manjishtha as its chief ingredient. Though bitter in taste, it is a highly acclaimed medicine. It is indicated in a number of simple and complex problems like pimples, boils urticaria, eczema and psoriasis. The qwath is given as a vehicle with various other medicines to treat obesity, high cholesterol, gouty arthritis and benign enlargements.

Manjishtha is successfully used as a natural dye. It imparts a light reddish tinge to the skin and is included in many cosmetic formulations. The daily dose of manjishtha powder and its decoction is 2 gm and 50 ml respectively, two or three times a day. To avoid possible adulteration, while purchasing herbs, one should get them identified by an expert.

Dr R. Vatsyayan is an ayurvedic consultant based in Ludhiana.


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