HEALTH TRIBUNE Wednesday, April 17, 2002, Chandigarh, India
 

Cancer lies in fear of fear
Dr B.N.S Walia
T
he diagnosis of cancer, when announced, gives quite a frightening experience which people react to in different ways. Some totally reject it and say: "How can it happen to me? I am in such good health, and nobody in our family ever had it!" Others go into depression, as if the death sentence has been passed.

Facial hair in women
Dr Gurinderjit Singh
A
woman having facial hair, especially over the upper lip or the chin, may have marked psychological problems. Such hair in women seriously impairs the individual's capacity to establish normal social relationships and may retard psychological development. The medical term indicating such growth is known as hirsutism.

AYURVEDA & TOTAL HEALTH 
Anar: fruit and medicine
Vaidya Shiromani Dr R. Vatsyayan, Ayurvedacharya
D
adima or dantabeeja literally means a fruit whose seeds resemble the teeth and Lohitpushpa stands for red flowers; that is how anar the popular fruit has been mentioned in Ayurveda. Though it is a native of Afghanistan, Baluchistan and Persia, its small trees are cultivated in large parts of India. The root bark, flower bud, fruit and fruit rind of anar are used as medicine.

HOMOEO TIPS
Hyperkids
Drs Vikas &Anu Sharma
H
omoeopathic prescribing is generally based on idiosyncratic characteristics of an individual but if one medicine is to be favoured for treating a large number of ADHD(attention deficit hyperactive disorder) cases, Tarentula Hispana should be that one.

 
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Cancer lies in fear of fear
Dr B.N.S Walia



Jetty set: the ship will come at its time!

The diagnosis of cancer, when announced, gives quite a frightening experience which people react to in different ways. Some totally reject it and say: "How can it happen to me? I am in such good health, and nobody in our family ever had it!" Others go into depression, as if the death sentence has been passed. While still others seek a second opinion and, if that also confirms the diagnosis, set about making arrangements for the treatment.

In my medical practice of nearly 50 years, I have come across countless individuals who have handled the situation in a composed and competent way. What follows is information that should be valuable to a patient with recently diagnosed cancer and is expected to enable him to handle the turbulence in his mind and in the minds of other members of the family in such a way as to promote the best chances of recovery of the patient with the least disturbance of the daily life of the family unit as a whole.

The fear reaction that cancer generates is due either to the fear of pain or to that of imminent death. For the control of pain very effective remedies are now available, and no cancer patient is allowed to suffer pain. Regarding the fear of death, one has to understand that the speed of the spread of cancer is dependent upon its inherent nature and the stage at which it has been diagnosed. If the diagnosis is made at an early stage and the cancer is responsive to treatment, a majority of the cases are completely curable. The second important factor in the outcome of a case of cancer is its nature. Here again, only a small number of cancer types are rapidly progressive. A large number may not affect the quality of life of a person for several years. Here then there is a case for an optimistic outlook. Why think of the worst case scenario? Why not tell yourself in the words of Iqbal:

Giri ho jis jagah bijli woh tera ashian kyon ho?

If one understands the foregoing facts, one need not be haunted by the possibility of an imminent disaster and can start living life in one's normal way, with the hope of a cure and faith in the modern techniques of medicine, which offer the best possibility of controlling the disease. One must have the desire to live and that comes from shedding the idea of hopelessness of the situation. Life is beautiful. There is so much of love, friendship, companionship, laughter and music to enjoy. Why not get down to enjoying these rather than purposelessly brood on why it happened? "What did I do to deserve it?" Iassure you that cancer is not the result of any punishment by God for an imaginary or real sin you might have committed. It is simply the normal process of cell growth gone out of control and your sins cannot have contributed to it!

The next important step is to find out a medical centre nearest to your place of residence where modern treatment facilities are available. Start the treatment and persist till the entire course is completed. Half-hearted treatment only leads to early recurrence.

I am not aware of any indigenous method of treatment which has stood the test of a scientifically conducted controlled trial. So, one should not be misled by tall promises howsoever well advertised or spread by word of mouth: our friends, though they wish us well, are often not the best sources of information and may be susceptible to their own biases as well as misinformation. Surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy the three modes of modern treatment are bound to produce side-effects for a day or two. These need not disturb us too much as, after the course of treatment is completed, several months of quiescence of disease follow during which period the patient is completely symptom-free.

An optimistic and a hopeful outlook should be maintained at all times. New drugs which are more effective and produce fewer side-effects are being discovered every year. The technology for radiotherapy is improving simultaneously.

Join a support group for your disease. You will realise that you are not alone. On the contrary, you will meet numerous other persons who have adjusted with their situation and are going about life in the normal lane.

I have found that the generosity of spirit, the warmth of relationships and ample praise for whatever little anyone has done for you will encourage others to be involved with you. The more you love the people around you, the more love you will receive. If you withdraw into yourself, people shall ignore you!

It is good to be usefully engaged in something. This is done by having a programme for the whole day and following it religiously. This would differ with different people according to their preferences. Withdrawal from your business or vacation should be gradual and not sudden, thus giving a chance your understudy to be prepared for taking over your job. Besides those who are usefully employed, do not have time to brood or go into depression.

In your daily programme try to include some time for prayer. More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of, says a poet. It is true that prayers and potions make a powerful combination for recovery. Just as in a war two important elements for victory are the armaments and the morale of the soldier, in the fight against a chronic disease, these two elements are of paramount importance. Prayer will give you mental peace as well as strength to face the difficulties inherent in your situation with hope and faith!

One of the important tasks that you should undertake is to prepare your will and get it registered. Your children and spouse will hesitate to speak to you about this matter, lest they should be misunderstood, but you can save your family a lot of financial difficulties if your will is clearly laid out and duly registered. One word of advice while we are on this subject is to try to be fair to all your children even those who have not been very obedient and caring, as otherwise you shall leave seeds of permanent discord in your family. You may not reveal the content of your will and entrust it to a friend, a lawyer or a trustworthy relative. Also record all your assets and liabilities in a diary and put it in your locker, so that your hard-earned money can be safely utilised by those for whom it is meant. In general, if you wish to give some money in charity, do mention it in your will or better do it in your own lifetime so that you have the pleasure of seeing the project to its fruition.

Try to find a worthy cause which you can volunteer for; when you start helping people, less fortunate than yourself, you are likely to forget your own woes. This is the best form of occupational therapy and gives us a reason to live and work for.

Jeenay ka raaz mainay muhabbat mein paa liya

Jis ka bhi gham mila apna bana liya

Dr B.N.S. Walia is a former Director of the PGI and a renowned child specialist.

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Facial hair in women
Dr Gurinderjit Singh

A woman having facial hair, especially over the upper lip or the chin, may have marked psychological problems. Such hair in women seriously impairs the individual's capacity to establish normal social relationships and may retard psychological development. The medical term indicating such growth is known as hirsutism.

Hirsutism requires a medical evaluation first to rule out an adrenal, ovarian or pituitary problem. Other medical indications for hair removal include congenital or drug-induced hypertrichosis, pseudofolliculitis, hair from grafted donor sites and men undergoing sex change operations. Obviously, patients may also designate other areas of hair growth as cosmetically undesirable (eg, "bikini" areas in women and "excessive" back hair in men).

Unwanted hair can be dealt with a several different ways with either a temporary or permanent intent. Types of hair removal acknowledged to be temporary include shaving, use of abrasives, plucking, depilatories, and certainly types of x-ray therapy. Laser hair removal and photodynamic therapy are treatments that generally lead to temporary hair removal.

This article attempts to inform the reader of the available means of hair removal and mechanisms involved in hair growth that should be considered in planning a strategy of permanent removal of hair. Androgen excess in females is a syndrome with specific clinical signs, menstrual abnormalities, infertility and metabolic disorders. The onset is at puberty and is associated with genetic inheritance and heralded by elevations of the adrenal androgen.

The major clinical signs of androgen excess are acne, hirsutism, androgenetic alopecia, seborrhoea, and menstrual irregularities. It is observed commonly secondary to polycystic ovarian disease. Other signs include obesity, idiopathic adrenal hyperplasia, dyslipidemias and infertility. Insulin resistance, acanthosis nigricans, diabetes, and hypertension are also late signs that appear in the thirty to forty-year-old females. Women with continuous androgen excess are noted to be at risk for early atherosclerosis, cardiovascular disease and endometrial cancer.

Medical management of hirsutism: Therapies for androgen excess are dependent on the severity and complexity of the individuals presenting the syndrome. Oral contraceptives (OC) can be used as anti-androgens since they compete for the androgen receptor. Hormonal Replacement Therapy (HRT)is useful in the perimenopausal and menopausal female. Corticosteroids, specifically dexamethasone, represent a safe and selective adrenal suppressant without the induction of immune or mineral abnormalities. Spironolactone (Aldactone) is an FDA-approved drug of hypertension. It works as a diuretic. It is also a non-steroidal anti-androgen and decreases the production of testosterone. It competes for the dihydrotesterone binding of the hair follicle and sebaceous gland receptor. Finasteride is an antiandrogen which inhibits the enzyme 5-alpha reductase, type 2. This anzyme is partially responsible for the conversion of testosterone in to dihydrotestosterone. Extensive clinical studies in men and women have shown it to be an effective drug for male androgenetic alopecia and not helpful for women.

Cosmetic management of hirsutism: Bleaching: This method is widely used for masking facial hair and hair on the arm. The hair bleaching system generally contains hydrogen peroxide along with ammonia. The two components, which are dispensed separately, are mixed just prior to use and applied to the area to be bleached. The area is washed off with soap and water after 20 or 30 minutes. Mild burning sensation may persist for about an hour after the bleach. If there is marked redness or itching after the bleach, the contact time of bleach with the skin should be reduced to half in future. Some ladies cannot tolerate bleach contact with the skin even for five minutes. Alternative treatment systems of hair masking other than bleach should be used in such people.

A simple home made bleach consists of 25ml of hydrogen peroxide (20 volumes) to be mixed with 20 drops of ammonia (household ammonia or ammonia water). Talcum powder can be added to this to make a paste.

Depilation: Depilation is the removal of hair at or just below the skin surface.

Shaving: Shaving is the easiest, cleanest and cheapest way of removing superfluous hair. There is no scientific basis for the common belief that shaving stiffen hair or increases its pigmentation or growth. Shaving is usually done with a safety razor after lathering the area with soap and water or after softening the hair with a shaving cream.

Abrasives: Abrasives remove hair superficially. The commonest one is use is the pumice stone.

Chemical depilation: Chemical preparations for the removal of unwanted hair are very popular among ladies mainly for the removal of hair from the arms and the legs.

Epilation: This means removal of the hair from the root itself.

Plucking: Plucking (using either a tweezer or a thread) is a common method of removal of unwanted hair in the region of the eyebrows, the upper lip and stray hair from the face and areolae of the breasts.

Waxing: It is more often used by beauticians than at home for removing hair from the extremities and sometimes from the face. The major disadvantage of waxing is that it can be used only to remove the hair which is at least a few millimetres long. Some women find waxing painful and the skin may show up redness or even folliculitis (infection of hair roots) later on.

Electrosurgical epilation: Electrosurgical epilation is a safe and permanent method of removing unwanted hair. Electrical epilation can be done by using a direct current (electrolysis) or an alternating current (thermolysis). Electric epilation is indicated most frequently in the following situations: (a) excessive facial hair (b) isolated large hair on the breasts (c) hair on moles that are to be removed by shave biopsy and (d)hair that is present in the skin graft obtained from a hair-bearing area used to cover a defect in a non-hair bearing area.

On an average, 15-25% of the hair regrow after electric epilation. This is due to several factors: (a) the phase in the hair cycle at the time of treatment since early anagen hair is not visible on the skin and hence is missed on treatment while telogen hair does not allow access to the hair root papilla; (b) if an inadequate current is applied, the dermal papilla may regenerate and (c) distorted follicles do not allow a proper application of the current. Most patients experience some pain during electric epilation and this is more with thermolysis. The chances of scarring are less with electrolysis.

Recent laser techniques: The use of lasers to remove hair, pigmented lesions or tattoos is based on the fact that pigments selectively absorb particular wavelengths of light. Current laser hair removal techniques use wavelengths of light that target melanin, the pigment that determines the colour of both hair and skin. In light-skinned people, the laser energy safely passes through the skin and is absorbed by the darker hair shaft, attempting to destroy the hair and its root. Because darker-skinned people have more melanin in their skin, those wavelengths would also be absorbed and damage the skin.

It is now possible to remove excessive hair successfully and safely from people with darker ethnic skin using new laser equipment and techniques. The diode laser emits light at a longer wavelength than does the traditional laser and the longer wavelength is less readily absorbed by melanin. It has been discovered that using a longer exposure time affords even more protection to dark skin.

Dr Gurinderjit Singh is the Head of the Department of Dermatovenereology and Hair Transplantation at Mohan Dai Oswal Cancer Treatment &Research Foundation, Ludhiana.

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AYURVEDA & TOTAL HEALTH 
Anar: fruit and medicine
Vaidya Shiromani Dr R. Vatsyayan, Ayurvedacharya

Dadima or dantabeeja literally means a fruit whose seeds resemble the teeth and Lohitpushpa stands for red flowers; that is how anar the popular fruit has been mentioned in Ayurveda. Though it is a native of Afghanistan, Baluchistan and Persia, its small trees are cultivated in large parts of India. The root bark, flower bud, fruit and fruit rind of anar are used as medicine.

Almost all ancient texts of Ayurveda, including the works of Charaka and Sushruta have eulogised the medicinal qualities of anar. Though it has been categorised under three types sweet, sweet-sour and sour, the Kandahari anar is considered best.

Anar is sweet, astringent and sour in taste and light, unctuous and slightly hot in effect. It pacifies vata, pitta and kapha all the three doshas.

Different medicinal benefits are attributed to the various parts of the anar tree. The root and stem bark are astringent, cooling and anthelmentic, killing specially the tape worm. The flowers are styptic to gums and the fruit and seeds are astringent, stomachic, aphrodisiac and a heart tonic. The fruit juice is rich in vitamins and citric acid and is antioxidant whereas the rind and the stem bark contain tannin and many alkaloids.

Ayurvedic texts have prescribed the use of anar in several diseases. The anar fruit is a drug of choice for treating anorexia, hyperacidity, anaemia, urethritis, excessive thirst, general debility and fatigue. The flowers and the fruit rind are used as a mouthwash and also in diarrhoea, dysentery, bleeding piles and epistaxis. Apart from medicinal purposes, the dried seeds of the fruit are commonly used as a souring agent in chutneys and pickles. Some of the important medicinal uses of anar are as under:

Diarrhoea and dysentery As a home remedy, the dried and crushed rind of anar, which is known as naspal, is perhaps the most commonly used medicine for controlling diarrhoea. In dysentery, one gram of its powder, with an equal quantity of dry ginger, can be taken two or three times a day. A decoction of anar rind is a good and safe remedy for infantile diarrhoea.

Anorexia and acidity Dried anar seeds (anardana)are famous for stimulating the salivary glands, thus promoting digestion and appetite. Unlike other citrus fruits, anar juice, if taken in a small quantity, relieves acidity. Morning sickness, excessive thirst, burning sensation, exhaustion and weakness respond well to the intake of anar juice.

Dental care Whereas the ash of anar rind is used in many traditional tooth powders, gargles of the decoction of anar flowers is recommended for curing spongy and bleeding gums as well as mouth ulcers. Rural people use anar twigs for oral and dental hygiene.

There are various classic ayurvedic formulations in which anar is used. The famous Dadimashtaka Churna is an effective home remedy for various digestive problems like the loss of appetite, gas trouble, indigestion, diarrhoea and dysentery. This churna can be made at home by mixing dried and powdered anardana 80 gm, bach, sonth, kali mirch and magha (pippali) 40 gm each, banshaalochana, dalchini, tejpatra and chhoti elaichi 20 gm each. Two grams of this churna can be taken two or three times a day with satisfactory results.


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HOMOEO TIPS
Hyperkids
Drs Vikas &Anu Sharma

Homoeopathic prescribing is generally based on idiosyncratic characteristics of an individual but if one medicine is to be favoured for treating a large number of ADHD(attention deficit hyperactive disorder) cases, Tarentula Hispana should be that one.

Hyperactive kids requiring Tarentula often have extreme restlessness and compulsion to hurry. Their legs are in motion, and they have a lot of trouble sitting still. The desire to run about, the urge to dance and to jump up and down are usual for them. Great, fantastic dancing! Loss of all sense of shame. Sudden and violent, or sly and destructive movements well, these are clear features of this medicine. One particular symptom that distinguishes Tarentula is its strange relation to music. Violence is a strong feature of the remedy violence with anger! His clothing strikes him. He strikes his attendants and best friends!

One more symptom that distinguishes Tarentula is its strange relationship to music. Sometimes music ameliorates all the symptoms and at other times it aggravates them. The child becomes violently excited after listening to music.

Can all hyperactive children be lumped together under one diagnostic category? Can a child, who lashes out in a violent manner at his family members and peers, fit into the same diagnostic group as a sweet gregarious one who simply cannot pay attention to the work in the class? A homoeopath would say that both temperaments are as different as day and night and would prescribe very different medicines. Individualisation stands as a key point in homoeopathic treatment.

A word of caution: As this is a deep-seated disorder, any homoeopathic intervention should be done under the guidance of a thorough professional.

Next week: A new approach to AUTISM

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