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Thursday, 28 October 2010

Informed Patients Get Better Care

One of the best developments in modern medicine is the emergence of smarter, better informed patients. Today, patients have access to more information about health, medicine and wellness than ever before thanks to the Web, the news media and public health initiatives.The timing for this improved education couldn't be better. Doctors today are very busy, but still want to help their patients stay or become healthy. So today's patients, armed with accurate records and information about their own health, are better able to utilize the time they have with their doctor.Just as valuable, patients who are better informed can also help our health care system realize needed improvements in costs and quality of care.While some discussions around health care reform revolve around the roles of doctors, hospitals and insurers, patients also have a central role in helping to transform our health care system. Patient-centered care, an important current initiative, empowers patients to better manage their own health and work with their physicians and a coordinated team of other health care professionals to make informed decisions.Smarter patients are likely to make more effective use of health care services and, therefore, help improve the quality of care and keep costs under control.Here are a few tips on how to become a smarter patient and be more proactive about your own health:
  • Keep track of your own health history. Record in a journal or an electronic tool any illness or injury, hospitalization or surgery, allergies, medications or supplements you take; and any illness in your immediate family. This is the type of information primary care doctors, specialists and emergency room doctors routinely ask their patients. When you have your own records you make the task of sharing this information during an appointment much less cumbersome or time consuming, while at the same time ensuring greater accuracy.
  • Coordinate with your doctor's recommendations to schedule regular check-ups. Under the new health care law, many insurance plans are providing preventive care options, including annual physicals, at no out-of-pocket cost to you. Routine check-ups are the best way to catch health issues early when treatments have a better rate of success.
  • Actively manage your health by knowing what a healthy weight is for you and what your cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar levels are. Many employers, health and community organizations sponsor free screenings that you can utilize.
  • Ask questions if you don't understand what your doctor has told you. In the past, doctors may have made treatment decisions with little discussion with patients, but we know now from experience that a collaborative approach, which engages patients in their own care, helps produce optimal results.
  • When you do have a health problem, discuss treatment options, risks and benefits with your doctor and consider getting a second opinion before making a decision about your care, especially when dealing with serious medical conditions, such as cancer.
  • When you research a medical condition, be certain to utilize credible, trustworthy sources with information that is science-based. Many hospitals, medical associations and research institutions host Web sites with accurate, up-to-date information on health and medical topics. Be careful and skeptical, however, of information on Web sites offering products for sale. Their information may not be totally objective. Ask your physician for recommendations on reliable sites.
The more you know about your own health and the more information you are able to share with your doctor, the better your doctor can do his or her job, and the better your decisions will be when you need to make choices among a variety of health care options.

A collaborative approach with your doctor can save time, money and, most of all, your life.

**Martin Kohn, MD is the Associate Director of Healthcare Analytics for IBM Research

Stress Affects Your Appearance

An Australian stylist has warned that stress not only affects your health, but also affects the state of your appearance which cannot be hidden by applying makeup. 
Gregory Landsman, the author of Face and Fitness, says that a high stress level is immediately visible on a person’s face. Landsman said that those with oily skin will experience increased oil secretion and acne while those with dry skin will display signs of stress such as redness or inflammation on the skin.
Landsman’s suggestion was supported by Brisbane chiropractor Jocelyn Olsson who said that increased stress will prevent the flow of blood towards digestive organs. 
“When we are tense, our adrenal glands release "stress response" hormones. Once this response has been activated, the body responds by an increase in heart rate, an increase in blood pressure, muscular stress, and the blood flowing away from the digestive functions toward the muscles”, she said. 


AYUSH hospitals & teaching institutions in TN adversely affected due to shortage of medical officers & doctors

Medical Journals' Competing Interests Need to be Made Transparent

Policies must be developed by journals to handle the inevitable competing interests that arise when they publish papers that may bring them reprint revenue or increase their impact factors.This is the conclusion of a research article by Andreas Lundh and colleagues from the Nordic Cochrane Centre published in this weeks PLoS Medicine. An accompanying perspective by Harvey Marcovitch, ex-chair of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), and an editorial from the PLoS Medicine Editors discusses this issue further, concluding that journals should apply the same degree of transparency that they require from authors, to themselves. 
The article examined randomized clinical trials published in six general medical journals (not including PLoS Medicine but including New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), the British Medical Journal (BMJ), The Lancet, Annals of Internal Medicine, Archives of Internal Medicine, and JAMA,) over two time periods, 1996 and 2005, and assessed which of the trials were supported wholly, partly, or not at all by industry. They then used the online academic citation index Web of Science to calculate an approximate impact factor for each journal for 1998 and 2007 and calculated the effect of the published RCTs on the impact factor. 
The proportion of RCTs with sole industry support varied between journals. 32% of the RCTs published in the NEJM during both two-year periods had industry support whereas only 7% of the RCTs published in the BMJ in 2005 had industry support. Industry-supported trials were more frequently cited than RCTs with other types of support; omitting industry-supported RCTs from impact factor calculations decreased all the approximate journal impact factors. For example, omitting all RCTs with industry or mixed support decreased the 2007 BMJ and NEJM impact factors by 1% and 15%, respectively. 
Finally, the researchers asked the Editor of each journal about journal income from industry sources. For the BMJ and the Lancet, the only journals that provided this information directly, income from reprint sales was 3% and 41%, respectively, of total income in 2005�. 
The authors conclude that "journals [should] abide by the same standards related to conflicts of interest, which they rightly require from their authors, and that the sources and the amount of income are disclosed to improve transparency." Commenting on the article, Harvey Marcovitch agrees, saying "Journal editors have expended much time and effort in teasing out how to handle authors' and reviewers' competing interests. They need now to concentrate on their own and those of their employers". In the accompanying editorial "Increased Responsibility and Transparency in an Era of Increased Visibility" the PLoS Medicine Editors, who have posted their own journal's income on the competing interest page of the journal, conclude that "The internet has spurred an intellectual revolution in the dissemination of medical information. Journals have thus far been accepted as one of the most trusted sources of information. It's clear, however, that in order to maintain that trust, journals and editors need to continue to consider all the pressures that can arise in publishing and put in place robust, transparent procedures for handling all the potential conflicts that can arise, whether they are those of authors, editors, or the journals themselves.'' 




Researchers Crack Genetic Code of Sudden Death Cardiac Killer

Scientists have cracked the genetic code of a sudden death cardiac killer. 
As a result, researchers in Newfoundland have developed a unique prevention program in which people with no symptoms, but with a suspect gene and a family history, are being implanted with internal cardiac defibrillators (ICDs), which can restart their hearts if they stop.
"Our discovery has led to a targeted genetic screening and individualized therapy that is significantly improving survival rates," Dr. Sean Connors told the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress 2010, co-hosted by the Heart and Stroke Foundation and the Canadian Cardiovascular Society.
"It's allowing people with the condition to live normal, longer lives. Individualized genetic therapies like this are the future of medicine."
The excitement among cardiologists concerns a rare genetic condition - arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy (ARVC).
"Newfoundlanders likely have the highest incidence in the world of this disease," Dr. Connors, a cardiologist and associate professor of medicine at Memorial University in Newfoundland, told the Congress.
The term arrhythmogenic refers to deadly cardiac rhythms that can be triggered by electrical impulses within the heart. Cardiomyopathy is a worsening condition where heart muscle is slowly replaced by scar and fat tissue.


Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Genes govern if we can survive on four hours' sleep

Margaret Thatcher swore she only needed four hours sleep each night while running the country and now scientists believe they have discovered how she managed it.

Reseachers have found that people who are able to survive on only four hours sleep have different genes meaning they wake less often and are more able to sleep deeply.The research could be important for shift workers, people who travel across time zones often and or who lose sleep through work commitments.The research could be important for shift workers, people who travel across time zones often and or who lose sleep through work commitments.A team from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in Philadelphia examined the sleep patterns of people with variation in their genes that shows some connection to narcolepsy, the condition that makes people fall asleep suddenly.However some people with the gene do not develop narcolepsy and others without it do develop it.The team wanted to examine what other effects on sleep the gene, called DQB!*0602, had on sleep.During the trial 92 healthy people without the gene were compared to 37 healthy people who had the gene but had not reported any sleep disorders.The participants were monitored as they slept with their rest disturbed on some of the nights.It was found that when restricted to four hours in bed a night those with the gene were sleepier and more fatigued than those without it. Those with the gene spent less time in deep sleep and woke up in the night more often.The findings are published in the journal Neurology.Lead author Dr Namni Goel, said: "The gene may be a biomarker for predicting how people will respond to sleep deprivation which has significant health consequences and affects millions of people around the world."It may be particularly important to those who work on the night shift, travel frequently across multiple time zones or just lose sleep due to their multiple work and family obligations."

Source:The Telegraph

Is Sleepiness in Your Genes? New Penn Medicine Study Shows Gene Variant Leaves Carriers More Fatigued, Sleepier

Healthy sleepers who carry a specific gene variant are more likely to have disrupted sleep, according to University of Pennsylvania study published in the October 26, 2010 issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. 
After a series of nights with restricted sleep, 37 healthy adults who carry a specific gene variant found it harder to cope than 92 healthy non carriers, in terms of increased sleepiness and fatigue and more fragmented sleep. Since the gene is closely related to narcolepsy, in which some of these symptoms are observed ( e.g., increased sleepiness and more fragmented sleep ), it may be the gene that is causing these responses.
“If the study is replicated, this research may justify recommendations for behavioral interventions, like naps, or pharmacological countermeasures, such as a dose of caffeine, to gene variant carriers when their sleep is restricted,” said the study’s lead author, Namni Goel, PhD, assistant professor of Psychology in Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. Penn Medicine is one of the world’s leading academic medical centers, dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and excellence in patient care. Penn Medicine consists of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine ( founded in 1765 as the nation's first medical school ) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System, which together form a $3.6 billion enterprise. 
Penn’s School of Medicine is currently ranked #2 in U.S. News & World Report’s survey of research-oriented medical schools, and is consistently among the nation’s top recipients of funding from the National Institutes of Health, with $367.2 million awarded in the 2008 fiscal year. 
Penn Medicine’s patient care facilities include:
The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania – the nation’s first teaching hospital, recognized as one of the nation’s top 10 hospitals by U.S. News & World Report. 
Penn Presbyterian Medical Center – named one of the top 100 hospitals for cardiovascular care by Thomson Reuters for six years. 
Pennsylvania Hospital – the nation’s first hospital, founded in 1751, nationally recognized for excellence in orthopaedics, obstetrics & gynecology, and psychiatry & behavioral health.  
Additional patient care facilities and services include Penn Medicine at Rittenhouse, a Philadelphia campus offering inpatient rehabilitation and outpatient care in many specialties; as well as a primary care provider network; a faculty practice plan; home care and hospice services; and several multispecialty outpatient facilities across the Philadelphia region.
Penn Medicine is committed to improving lives and health through a variety of community-based programs and activities. In fiscal year 2009, Penn Medicine provided $733.5 million to benefit our community.

Lost Your Heart to Someone? Scientists Say Love is About 'Losing Your Brain'

Remember the expression 'losing your heart to someone'? Well you might have lost your brain instead, according to a new study that claims it's your brain and not your heart that makes you fall in love. 
Stephanie Ortigue at Syracuse University said that falling in love can elicit not only the same euphoric feeling as using cocaine, but also affects intellectual areas of the brain -what's more - it only takes about a fifth of a second to fall in love.Results from Ortigue's team revealed when a person falls in love, 12 areas of the brain work in tandem to release euphoria-inducing chemicals such as dopamine, oxytocin, adrenaline and vasopression.
The feeling also affects sophisticated cognitive functions, such as mental representation, metaphors and body image.
So, does the heart fall in love, or the brain?
"I would say the brain, but the heart is also related because the complex concept of love is formed by both bottom-up and top-down processes from the brain to the heart and vice versa," said Ortigue.
"Some symptoms we sometimes feel as a manifestation of the heart may sometimes be coming from the brain," she added.
The team also found that blood levels of nerve growth factor, or NGF were also high in couples, which had just fallen in love. This molecule involved plays an important role in the social chemistry of humans, or the phenomenon 'love at first sight.'


Low-cost Cancer Drug from Plant Stem Cells

Using stem cells from trees, cheap and sustainable production of a well-known cancer drug is possible, suggests a new study. 
University of Edinburgh researchers have isolated and grown stem cells from a yew tree whose bark is a natural source of the anticancer compound paclitaxel.
The development could enable the compound to be produced on a commercial scale at low cost, with no harmful by-products. 

Scientists and engineers behind the development say the drug treatment - currently used on lung, ovarian, breast, head and neck cancer - could become cheaper and more widely available. 
Currently, an extract from yew tree bark is used to industrially manufacture the compound paclitaxel. 
However, this process is expensive, requires supplies of mature trees, and creates environmentally damaging by-products. 
Researchers claim that using stem cells-self-renewing tree cells which can be manipulated to produce large amounts of the active compound-would effectively create an abundant supply of the drug. 
Scientists behind the project have also cultured stem cells from other plants with medical applications, indicating that the technique could be used to manufacture other important pharmaceuticals besides paclitaxel. 
The study was published in Nature Biotechnology.



Monday, 25 October 2010

Turning to Ayurveda

The disease is in an advanced and progressive stage. Hope is fading fast. "At this stage, it is difficult to bring patients out of depression and try to cure them," says Dr Dilip P. Gadgil, managing director of Niramaya Ayurvedic Research and Consultancy in India, at the recent Asia Pacific Congress And Exhibition On Indian Systems Of Medicine.
But still, he adds, some miraculous recoveries have been noted.He says that in modern medicine, cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells and some people think that it happens because of the hybridisation process in both agricultural and animal farming. Since these species have lost their immunity, they have to be given prophylactic antibiotics and pesticides.
Chemical fertilisers are also used to enhance the production.
Since our body is made up from the food we eat, it is difficult to achieve immunity through this food.
For Dr Dilip, urbanisation has worsened the situation.
"Unhealthy lifestyles such as lack of exercise, stress and competition have disturbed our daily routine. In addition, we are eating a lot of fast food and junk food," he says.
He adds rising fear, anxiety, and depression contribute to more diseases.
"Addictions such as to alcohol and tobacco further worsen the situation. These are some of the causes of cancer," says Dr Dilip. Abnormal cells that form start reproducing very fast and produce metastasis or secondaries.
In ayurveda, he says, practitioners use different system of diagnosis and treatment as they have to consider hetu (causes), purva rupa (pre symptoms), rupa (symptoms), upashaya (relieving factors) and samprapti (the activities of doshas and the process of creation of disease).
"We need to go to the root cause of the problem and adjust lifestyle," he adds. Dr Dilip says it is important to preserve immunity to stay healthy. Some golden rules include:
  • Eat only when you are hungry.
  • Sit down, chew properly and don't eat too slow or too fast.
  • Eat regularly, at the same times each day.
  • Prefer cooked food to raw. Digestive enzymes work more effectively at higher temperatures.
  • Don't read, work, watch TV or talk while eating. Just eat.
  • Fill one-third of your stomach with solid food, one-third with liquid and keep one third empty.
  • Don't eat again for 3-4 hours, until you have digested your previous meal.
  • Drink warm water with or after your meals. Avoid cold drinks, because they compromise the digestive fire (agni).
  • Always eat freshly cooked food. Don't keep and reheat leftovers.
  • Don't take hot showers after meals. It draws the blood away from the centre and into the extremities.
Dr Dilip also advises eating sweet food first (such as fruit). Milk and fruit should not be consumed together, and honey must not be heated or dissolved into anything hot.
It is said that ghee and olive oil are the best fats to use. After lunch and dinner, it's good to drink an infusion of fennel, anis, cumin, coriander seeds and fresh ginger.
In general, spices used in cooking aid digestion. These include ginger, garlic, onion, cumin, coriander, cardamom, turmeric, mustard seeds, curry leaves, black garam masala and asafoetida.
In ayurveda, spices and herbs are medicine, used in a therapeutic way and can cure, diseases.
Dr Dilip recalls a cancer patient with tumours that had spread to various organs, who had gone to him for help. He treated the patient with a mono-diet of hot milk and ginger, turmeric and special herbs for nine months. The milk, he says, came from a special breed of cows.
The patient was cured.
Diabetics, he says, should avoid excess intake of sweets, carbohydrate and dairy products. Instead, they should take more fresh vegetables and bitter herbs.
Other useful foods include roasted or fried barley, cornflour, bitter vegetables, barley porridge, ghee, rice and herbs such as gokshura (Tribulus terrestris), gudmar (Gymnema Sylvestre), triphala, musta, cardamom, fenugreek or coriander, mixed with honey.
By Annie Freeda Cruez

Drug That Treats Nicotine Addiction Also Help Cure Alcoholism

A new study has demonstrated that a plant-derived compound that is used to treat nicotine addiction also has significant effects against alcohol addiction.
Scientists from South Dakota State University are now investigating whether the compound may offer lasting treatment against alcohol relapse, craving, and perhaps alcohol-nicotine co-addiction as well."Alcohol and tobacco smoking are the top causes of preventable deaths in the U.S. Total economic costs for alcoholism and tobacco-related diseases are about 900 billion dollars per year in the U.S. Millions of Americans are at the heart of this crisis," said associate professor Shafiqur Rahman in SDSU's Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences. 
Rahman and his student researcher, Ravi Sajja focused their initial work on looking at new applications for the compound, cytosine, which is a key ingredient in a smoking cessation product sold in Europe. 
The SDSU study examined what effect cytisine had on alcohol consumption in mice and in rats in separate trials. 
"Based on these two animal models, we can conclude that cytisine reduced alcohol addiction in pre-clinical animal models. We also found that cytisine reduced alcohol addiction in a genetic model of alcoholism," added Rehman. 
The results obtained from pre-clinical models show promise in dealing with long-term management of alcoholism and alcohol-nicotine co-dependence. 
The results show potential in combating alcohol addiction and are published in a prestigious scientific journal, Alcohol.

You Can Smile in Six Different Ways

In a new study, researchers have identified six different types of smiles. 
Researchers at the University of California at Berkeley, Emiliana Simon-Thomas, a neuroscientist and Dacher Keltner, a psychology professor, have described the smiles and their distinctive characteristics.
The Duchenne smile, a genuine grin, it's named for 19th-century French scientist Duchenne de Boulogne, whose name is associated with a form of muscular dystrophy. 

The flirty, coy smile, often, the person looks out of the corner of the eyes, head turned and the amused smile, it comes with the chortle after a good joke, with the head thrown back. 
While those three expressions obviously convey signals to other people, Simon-Thomas said they're essentially "self-oriented." 
"If you're making one of these smiles, you don't necessarily want to approach the other person to meet their needs," the Sydney Morning Herald quoted her as saying. 
Contrast that with three kinds of 'pro-social smiles' that convey a desire to bond, there is, the love smile, often with a tilted head and softened eyes, the interested smile, with raised eyebrows and a slight grin and the embarrassed smile, sometimes with the eyes cast downward. 
"The love smile is about embracing and caring, which we think is really different from the coy smile, which is more about getting sexual pleasure," Simon-Thomas added. 


Sunday, 24 October 2010

The truth: there's no pill for every illness:Prof B.M.Hegde

""Of the terrible doubt of appearances,
Of the uncertainty after all - that we may be deluded!
— Walt Whitman
This morphologically young woman in her early 50s, let us call her Gita, called me the other day in great hurry and she was palpably agitated, to say the least. She was not even coherent. “I am truly down and feeling so low that I feel I have a serious problem. I feel very low after my evening walk.” I asked her “what happened?” She shot back, “My doctor told me my pressure is way high at 160/100. She immediately asked me to take a tablet, which I took.”“You must be feeling fine now,” I interrupted her. “No, No, No. I am feeling worse now. My doctor told me a couple of days later that my pressure is still way above normal at 130/80. She gave me a new tablet and asked me to swallow it right there as she wanted the pressure down to 110/70 as fast as possible.” In addition, my doctor asked me to urgently see a cardiologist to have a complete work up.”“What happened then? I asked. “My doctor's last advice put me off and I thought I better talk to you.” I could see her almost in tears. To cut the long story short, I had to talk to her at length to counsel and convince her that the blood pressure reading that she was worried about was all in her mind! The reader might think it is very easy. It is easier said than done. I can assure you that it would have been easier to give birth to a baby had I been pregnant than to successfully counsel an agitated 50-year-old postmenopausal, morphologically young lady to cool her down on the phone.Let us look at Gita in toto to know her better. “Know your patient better than his disease,” wrote Hippocrates. He was dead right. Gita was educated in the U.S. Her husband, a brilliant and capable scientist was the one who put together one of the most successful business groups in India. She had two beautiful and intelligent kids. She also had a cushy job on hand. Theirs was a happy & perfect family. But fate willed otherwise. Her handsome, intelligent husband died one sad morning due to what doctors called heart attack. Gita was devastated and shattered. One could understand. She came out of that reactive depression slowly but steadily and still does her job very successfully. She brought up the children like a true Indian mother and now both are successfully placed in society. Her families on either side were a great help and so were her colleagues and her husband's former colleagues.Turning 50, Gita felt lousy. An informed woman, she was worried about her menopause. That needed counselling again. Right then both her children went abroad in search of greener pastures and higher education. Gita was outwardly ecstatic but subconsciously she was feeling lonely and forlorn. That mind of Gita was somatising as “her feeling very low” which took her to her a “good” doctor in the first place, more due to family pressure. The rest is history.This sad story is all but lost on our modern medical business that tries to attack the palpable abnormal body parameter, which is mistaken for a disease to be drugged ruthlessly. Twenty-four hours after her traumatic experience, Gita was back to her usual confident self, with an on-top-of-the-world feeling, back on her job. The drugs are in the waste basket as she had to survive. “Thank you, Dr. Hegde, I feel fine. All in the mind — yes, yes, I now believe you.”Let us examine the science behind this misadventure. A thinking American professor, a rarity in that country these days, Mary Tinnetti, had this to say about our obsession with a firm diagnosis and our disease concept. “The time has come to abandon disease as the focus of medical care. The changed spectrum of health, the complex interplay of biological and non-biological factors, the aging population, and the inter-individual variability in health priorities render medical care that is centred on the diagnosis and treatment of individual diseases at best out of date and at worst harmful. A primary focus on disease may inadvertently lead to undertreatment, overtreatment, or mistreatment.”The drugs are being pushed irrationally and the gullible doctors who depend on drug companies for their continued education believe their advice a hundred per cent. The pharma lobby even gets research data manipulated. (JAMA 2010; 303(20): 2058-64.) “Speaking of Big Pharma's big, bad influence, here's more proof they're not interested in playing on a level field. It turns out a controversial and dangerous hormone therapy that was all the rage a few years back was pushed in medical journals by writers who were paid by Big Pharma,” according to court papers found in August 2009 by The New York Times.The paper also found that “in one case that seemed typical, the drug company paid around $25,000 to a third-party medical writing firm to generate one of these reports. That might sound like a lot of money to you or me, but it's money well-spent for Big Pharma. In fact, these shady reports helped hormone treatments generate $2 billion in sales in 2001, just before that money train was derailed.”The whole thing looks like a stage-managed effort to keep the best treatment method, change of mode of living, for chronic diseases like raised sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol from practising doctors as the pharma company profits from life-long drug treatments could be mind-boggling.This reminds me of the infamous Tuskegee experiment where 400 African-Americans suffering from syphilis were observed from 1932 through 1972 withholding penicillin treatment just to record the natural history, symptoms and complications of the disease without their consent. Sir George Pickering, a doyen in hypertension research, had this to say: “More people make a living off hypertension than dying of it.” This was written in the 1950s when there were hardly a couple of crude drugs for hypertension. What would he have said about our situation today? God only knows!Right-thinking people in the medical profession have a tough job on hand to try and get at the truth, which in itself is a daunting task, and then cross a greater hurdle to deschool society of its firm belief that modern medicine is a true science and there is a pill or surgery for every illness! The truth is that while there is certainly no pill for every illness, every pill is followed by a definite illness. Pills might thrill but could even kill. Change of mode of living — diet, exercise, mental tranquillity in the midst of this maddening world running after the mirage called money, universal compassion and simple nature-given immune boosters in vegetables and fruits should set right most transitory parameters. It is too late in the day to start deschooling society to reverse the trend and help hapless patients like Gita.
(The writer is a former professor of cardiology, Middlesex Hospital Medical School, University of London, and retired Vice-Chancellor, Manipal University. Email:

In Dharamshala, Tibetan Medicine Being Upgraded

In a much-needed move, the Central Council of Tibetan Medicine (CCTM) organised a three-day workshop on continuing medical education in Dharamshala. 
The main objective of this programme is to boost the knowledge of Tibetan medical practitioners through lectures and workshops delivered by the senior medical scholars and experts."This is an interface for the practitioners first of all, then the second thing is that I mean what they do is, they normally share the clinical experiences that they have gained and the knowledge that they have gained through their own practices. So, obviously, this could be a platform where they can share the research works, paper works, everything," said Tashi Dawa, a doctor.
The Council of Tibetan Medicine has been active after an Act was passed by the 13th assembly of the Tibetan People's Deputies, with the final approval of the Dalai Lama in 2004.
Since then it became an apex body of all traditional medical practitioners in-exile with the total strength of 383 medical practitioners and four medical colleges. With the recent bill passed by the Parliament, the government now legally approves Tibetan medicine.



Controversial Doctor in Srilanka prescribed anabolic steroid in the name of Homeopathy to Athlete in CWG

A homeopathy doctor in Kurunegala has allegedly given the performance enhancing drug to Sri Lanka boxer Manju Wanniarachchi, stating that it was a vitamin.
The controversial doctor, when contacted by Sri Lanka boxing officials, today admitted that he has given a drug to Wanniarachchi. The homeopathy doctor initially claimed that he has a Sri Lankan medical degree – MBBS, but later said that he processes a medical degree from India. However, it has now been disclosed he is a homeopathy doctor and not a fully qualified doctor with a MBBS.
Wanniarachchi, who won men’s 56kg bantamweight gold medal at the recent Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, had not been aware that it contained a banned steroid at the time of taking the pill.
The 30-year-old Lankan boxer has been given a 14-day period for his explanation by the National Olympic Committee after his ‘A’ urine sample taken during the Commonwealth Games, was tested positive for Nandralone, an anabolic steroid which has been included in the banned list of performance enhancing drugs by the world anti-doping body – WADA. Wanniarachchi, who won a Commonwealth Games boxing gold medal for Sri Lanka after 72 years, was not available for comment. 
Source:Sunday Observer

Playboy puts Hindu yogis in a difficult position

Now the religion's ascetics have an unlikely fellow traveller: Hugh Hefner, the Playboy publisher, whose attempt to cash in on the benefits of naked yoga have outraged Hindu leaders.A video from Playboy features Sara Jean Underwood, a former Playmate of the Year, performing yoga poses. Hindu elders are angry at what they see as the latest in a string of attempts to commercialise an ancient and spiritual practice."Hindus are upset over what is the misuse of the age-old and revered system of yoga by Playboy for mercantile greed and we are urging the organisation to withdraw all its yoga-related products," said Rajan Zed, president of the Universal Society of Hinduism."Yoga is one of the six systems of orthodox Hindu philosophy and it is highly revered in Hinduism. It is a serious mental and physical discipline by means of which the human soul can unite with the universal soul."The criticism is the latest salvo to be fired in what some have dubbed the yoga wars, a series of disputes over the alleged hijacking of yoga for profit.The yoga industry is estimated to be worth $US6billion a year in the United States alone, where recently invented variations include yoga for pets and hot nude yoga.Money-making yogis have scandalised yoga's purists who believe that the true goal should be the attainment of moksha, a blissful release from the endless cycle of rebirth and death.India, the birthplace of the art, is striking back at what it calls yoga theft by those who claim techniques that may date back thousands of years as their own inventions."Yoga deals with spirituality," said V.K.Gupta, the head of India's Traditional Knowledge Digital Library, a government-funded database that is in the process of recording hundreds of yoga poses to ensure that foreign gurus cannot patent them. "Attempts to trademark the ancient property of humanity are offensive - they hurt," he added.The yoga wars began in Beverly Hills in 2004 when Bikram Choudhury, a Calcutta-born yoga master, claimed to own a sequence of 26 postures to be performed in a room heated to 40.5C.He claimed that anybody else who performed what he called hot yoga should pay him a licence fee.He was sued by a group of yoga activists with whom he agreed an out-of-court settlement but not before he accrued a fortune estimated at $US7million.
The Times

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