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Saturday, 25 December 2010

Yoga is key to weight loss in the New Year

Weight loss is usually one of the main items on New Year’s resolution list, and is also the one  least likely to be successful.A recent study by cancer prevention researcher Dr.Alan Kristal, a member of the Hutchinson Center’s Public Health Sciences Division found there was a direct correlation between practicing Yoga, and weight loss and maintenance. A study published in 2005 reported regular yoga exercises prevents middle-age spread, and a later study in 2009 reported those who practice yoga tend to be more mindful of their eating habits, and such people are less likely to be obese.“These findings fit with our hypothesis that yoga increases mindfulness in eating and leads to less weight gain over time, independent of the physical activity aspect of yogapractice,” Kristal said. “Mindful eating is a skill that augments the usual approaches toweight loss, such as dieting, counting calories and limiting portion sizes. Adding yogapractice to a standard weight-loss program may make it more effective.”The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center employs world-renowned scientists and humanitarians to study prevention, diagnoses and treatment of cancers, HIV/AIDS and other diseases.Diet regimes that include yoga and mindful eating practices are less stressful and more likely to succeed over the long term, and yoga exercise plans are to be found easily at local community centers, on DVDs and even online as sites such as Amazon, as well as numerous privately-owned sites.However, Kristal had a few more tips to help make the commitment to healthier living and weight loss easier. While there is no instant magic pill to losing weight and feeling great, he acknowledged it does n’t have to be as difficult as many find it to be.Exercise is important said Anne McTiernan, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Hutchinson Center’s Prevention Center.“You don’t need to be athletic. Just brisk walking or dancing to your favorite music or using an aerobic exercise machine like a stationary bike or treadmill is all you need to do – just try to do it each day.”Keep a food journal. “By spending a little extra time to write down everything you eat and drink, you’ll be able to see where extra calories sneak in,” said postdoctoral research fellow Caitlin Mason, Ph.D., an exercise and health researcher in the Public Health Sciences Division of the Hutchinson Center. “There are lots of good online tools that can help estimate the calorie content of common foods and track your weight loss progress over time,” she said.Setting realistic and specific goals is a great way to keep things in perspective, Mason added. Persevering even if you have a bad day is also important, she said.“Don’t throw your entire routine out the window after one bad day,” Mason said. “Instead, try to identify the specific barriers that got in your way and think through strategies to avoid such challenges in the future.
By: Carol Anne Hunt 

Honey on Toast- The Sweet Way to Get Rid of Hangovers!

This festive season, merriment will be aplenty, and so will be alcohol - but if you want to avoid that really bad feeling of nausea and headache the next morning try honey on toast, says a new study. 
The Royal Society of Chemistry claim that the natural sweetener is one of the best way to treat toxins in the body post-binge. It contains fructose, which can also be found in golden syrup, which is essential to help the body break down alcohol into harmless by-products.
"The happiness comes from alcohol. The hangover comes from acetaldehyde. This is the toxic chemical into which alcohol is converted by the body and it causes a throbbing headache, nausea, and maybe even vomiting," the Telegraph quoted Dr John Emsley of the Royal Society, as saying. "The hangover disappears as the acetaldehyde is slowly converted to less toxic chemicals," he added.
Honey is also a source of potassium and sodium that helps fight the alcohol toxins.
There are a few other tips you can follow to help cure a hangover: drink a glass of milk, stick to clear alcohols like gin or mix your drink with a bit of softdrink. Of course, water before going to bed helps too.
"The milk slows down the absorption of alcohol, which means there is less acetaldehyde for the body to deal with at any one time," Emsley said.
"Gin is alcohol twice purified by distillation and the botanical flavours it contains are mere traces. Avoid dark coloured drinks which contain natural chemicals that can adversely affect you."



Combo therapy gives hope

Did you know that injury-induced infections often heal faster with turmeric, neem and rose water than antiobiotics? Or, that neem and turmeric could cure an upset stomach in an hour? And that cardiac patients recover faster if they practise yoga and meditation even while taking allopathic medicines for the heart? Stunning facts that could have cynics sneering at alternative medicines. 
But according to a group of doctors in Kolkata who believe in "ethical treatment", good medicine is not necessarily allopathic, homeopathic or ayurvedic. Rather, it could be a combination of the three or any two of these depending on the symptoms and the condition of the patient. The theory may sound alien to many in Kolkata but millions in USA have already benefited from an integrated system of medicine which could soon be replicated in the city. 
Led by New York-based Bhaswati Bhattacharya, a practising ayurveda and biomedical scientist trained in pharmacology and neuroscience, the group has come together under the banner of the National Research Institute for Ayurveda (NRIA) which is already functioning in Kolkata. Scores of diseases could be treated faster, better and without side-effects under the system that seeks to reduce drug-dependence and treatment costs, according to Bhattacharya. 
Disillusioned by the high-handedness of allopaths who often indulged in "insensitive treatment", Bhattacharya set up the Dinacharya Institute in New York 10 years ago. "We have been trying to evolve a holistic system of medicine. We have proved that combination therapy can work better. The goal of good treatment should be to help cure patients and not doctors making money. We should be looking at the best possible method of treatment rather than restrict ourselves to a particular system," explained Bhattacharya, who picked up ayurveda from her father and worked on developing an integrated system, tailored to suit patients' needs. She is now in Kolkata to address a convention on medicinal plants. 
Integrated medicine is now a 24-million dollar industry in USA. Recovery rate, she claims, is better than conventional therapy. " Allopathic practitioners were unhappy with me at first, calling it unscientific. But with my training in chemistry and biomedicine, I know that's not correct. We are not ruling out any group of drugs but are all for an inclusive system," stressed Bhattacharya. Allopathic drugs were the third leading cause of death in USA and side-effects kill millions around the world every year, she pointed out. 
NRIA, based in Salt Lake, now has around 30 including doctors, scientists and researchers. Apart from reviving ayurveda, they also work on merging the system with more conventional methods. It's not true, Bhattacharya said, that herbal medicines provide only slow and long-term cure. She cited the case of a business leader whose finger had been crushed by a car door. "His finger was infected, swollen and pus had formed. I had it wrapped with a paste of ghee, turmeric, rose water and guduchi. Then, I drained the pass out with a sterilised needle. The swelling was gone in 12 hours and in three days, he was cured. It proves that ayurveda works in emergencies though we never rule out allopathy if it seems necessary," she said. 
For eye ailments, the integrated system recommends a visit to an ophthalmologist. If drugs don't work, turmeric is used depending on the symptoms. It kills the infection in more than half the cases, Bhattacharya claimed. Antibiotics, she added, should never be prescribed for common cough and cold as is done frequently in India. "It's a malpractice which could make you drug resistant. Sipping warm water with ginger and honey will cure it faster than any drug," she added. 
Cardiac treatment, the system recommends, needs to be tempered with meditation and yoga. Destressing is an important part of cardiac treatment. "You need to get out of the pressures of existence, even if it is for 10 minutes a day. Only meditation can help you do that. Allopathic treatment, of course, is necessary and diagnostic tests are a help," she said. 
NRIA believes Kolkata is ready for the new mode of treatment. "We have people on board who are hugely experienced. They are working on fine-tuning the system for Kolkata and should be ready to take off soon," she signed off.



Herbal Pregnancy & Postpartum Workshop in Portland, Oregon

The herbal pregnancy & postpartum workshop will be taught by Dr. Alice Palmeri at Zanana Spa in southeast Portland as part of a bi-monthly series beginning in February 2011. Dr. Palmeri currently works at Portland Family Homeopathy at Awakenings Wellness Center in Portland, Oregon. The seminar series will help support those choosing to have a natural childbirth or birthing in a hospital. The class will focus on herbs traditionally used during pregnancy & postpartum.The course will be divided into two sessions, pregnancy herbs & postpartum herbs. During the first session, participants will learn about herbs that have been traditionally used as nutritional pregnancy teas, uterine tonics, to help alleviate morning sickness, & as a relaxation tincture during childbirth. And the second class will focus on postpartum healing baths, herbs to increase milk supply, & herbal baby baths.When Dr. Palmeri was asked why she was teaching the workshop, she replied, ”I’m really fascinated with the way herbs work on the body. I’ve heard over & over again how women have felt the need to prepare for birth. In this way, they can learn about natural ways that herbs may be able to help & then discuss it with their primary care providers. The workshop can be part of a process in which women take part in their birth, having more input in what often feels like a very out of control situation. Every pregnant family needs to nest & quite simply, herbal medicine can be really fun!”
Source:American Consumer News

Environment Awareness Spread by Bhopal's Little Santas

Bhopal's children dressed as Santa Clauses spread a message of protecting the environment at a colourful function. 
A 'Pretty Santa Fashion Show' was organised on the occasion.
The theme of the show was five elements of life namely air, water, earth, fire, and space, referred as Panchabhuta in scriptures.
The hour-long show saw kids dressed as Santa in different colours, walking down the ramp with enthusiasm and appealing to save the environment.
Shashi Keswani, Principal of the Pretty Petals School, said it is important to make the children aware about burning environment issues like global warming so that they grow up to be responsible and environment conscious adults.
"We have this concept of five elements. With Santa Clause we want to give out a message to the society to create awareness about these issues," said Keswani.
Nishtha, a student, said performing at this function was a thrilling experience.
"Today, I had a lot of fun. We cut cake. I participated and danced," said Nishtha.



Friday, 24 December 2010

Incidence of Low Birth Weight Babies on the Rise in India

A new survey carried out by leading weight loss company, VLCC has expressed concerns over the rising instances of babies with low birth weight of less than 2.5 kgs in India. 
Nearly 20 percent of all the babies born in India have a birth weight of less than 2.5 kgs compared with the normal birth weight of 3 kgs. This is more prevalent among urban mothers with 24 percent of babies born in urban areas have a low birth rate compared to 14.7 percent in rural areas.
Lead researcher Veena Aggarwal said that one of the major reasons for low birth weight is the life style of would be mothers, especially in the first trimester. With expectant mothers eating less than necessary, the right amount of nutrition fails to reach the baby in the initial stages. The best way to overcome this loss of nutrition is by eating malted food such as ragi, wheat flour or soya, Aggarwal suggested. The would-be mothers should also increase their protein intake in the second trimester while staying away from alcohol or cigarettes and trying to avoid getting stress.
“The size of the placenta often becomes small if the mother is stressed and nutrition doesn't reach the baby properly. There is no better way to beat stress than exercise. Babies of mothers who exercise are born with healthier weights”, Aggarwal added. 


Mystery of yoga trainer solved

The media assembled in Durban was left bemused after 'breaking news' floated in that former Zimbabwe all-rounder Neil Zohnson had been appointed India's new yoga instructor. Several websites confirmed it, saying coach Kirsten had bolstered his support staff with the addition of Johnson and would be hoping to get his players as supple and as fit as they could be. 
The dispatches even claimed that the former all-rounder was seen doing a few yoga postures with the players after India lost the first Test at Centurion and that team manager Ranjib Biswal had confirmed the appointment of Johnson but refused to let him talk to the media. 
The news left the media bewildered because surely there was no Neil Johnson at Centurion? And since when did he become a yoga instructor anyway? 
The mystery was solved when one gentleman named Jim Harrington was introduced to the media by India's mental conditioning coach Paddy Upton right inside the ground. "Jimmy will be our yoga instructor for the tour of South Africa." As Harrington stood by Upton's side, looking a bit uneasy due to the sudden media attention, one could make out that he looked a bit like Johnson! Harrington, who is an Australian living in South Africa, informed that he had worked with many athletes. He is also a senior teacher at the Moksha Yoga Studio in Cape Town.



Placebo Effect Successful Even With Patients'

The placebo effect is effective and improvement is the disease has been noted, even when patients have been informed that the pills they take aren't active medication. The findings by the researchers at Harvard Medical School's Osher Research Center and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) suggested that the placebo effect could work even without the deception.Placebos are used in clinical trials as controls for potential new medications. Even though they contain no active ingredients, patients often respond to them. Harvard Medical School associate professor of medicine Ted Kaptchuk and his colleagues at BIDMC wanted to explore whether the effect of placebos can be harnessed honestly and respectfully or not. They conducted a three-week trial of 80 patients suffering from irritable bowel syndrome. 

The patients were divided into two groups, with one group given no pills, and the other given pills honestly described as 'like sugar pills'. They were told to take the pills twice daily. 
Nearly twice as many patients treated with the placebos reported adequate symptom relief (59 percent) compared with the group taking no pills (35 percent), according to the study. 
The study claimed that patients taking the placebo doubled their rates of improvement to a degree roughly equivalent to the effects of the most powerful irritable bowel syndrome medications. 
"Not only did we make it absolutely clear that these pills had no active ingredient and were made from inert substances, but we actually had 'placebo' printed on the bottle," said Kaptchuk.



Homeopathy - The Future of Medical Science?

Homeopathy and other alternative medical systems need to be encouraged as low-cost alternatives for the billions all over the world who lack any serious health care.
And it certainly surprises me that it hasn’t happened so far. If a system is as effective as its proponents claim it to be, for it to not have become a widespread elixir to cure humanity of all its ills either shows a complete lack of human intelligence or it implies a massive attempt of the higher powers (you know who you are) to suppress the dissemination of information and knowledge.
Either way it is humanity’s loss. Our loss. We struggle with disease everywhere in the world, from the forests of Africa to the deserts of Mongolia. And we lack cheap medicinal alternatives, apart from the likes of witchcraft and prayers (which too might work but thanks to scientific education are not given the respect they deserve).
I also am not talking about the scheming quacks who fool the uneducated and uninformed out of their hard-earned money and time, for every profession has cheats and liars. I speak of the creation of a well-intentioned initiative where the councils of these many alternative medicines go one step further and attempt to solve the health problems that plague the poor and needy of the world, and in the process provide a safety net to those who lack modern allopathic health care, ridden as it is with those pesky chemicals and side effects.
So we can start with the malaria and dengue epidemics in Asia and Africa, and then move onto the so-called ‘incurable’ diseases such as AIDS and hepatitis all over the world.
For the sake of this article, I shall focus on homeopathy, a science that 'really works’. I have no facts to back this statement but I, like many, shall resort to hearsay. Homeopathy has for many decades been a subject of debate. On one side we have the researchers (obviously funded by the pharmaceutical companies) with their annoying scientific methods of double-blind tests and on the other side we have the practitioners who ‘know that it works’ from experience and theory.
Homoeopathy 'of course works' and its practitioners have no reason to actually take part in any scientific method to justify themselves. When one is sure of oneself, there is no need to prove it to anyone else.They have of course used, or rather utilized, many theories to explain why their cures work, so no one confuses them with those pesky quacks. They started out with the ‘law of similars’ and water memory and by now have moved on to explanations at the level of quantum entanglement and chaos theory. But I think homoeopathy is trying too hard to justify itself.
For many centuries, we have had esoteric practices for no reason but that we need alternatives to scientific thought. Science is too confusing, especially the modern type, with its convoluted and confusing names and theories. And especially allopathy, with its chemicals and side-effects. It did cure many diseases, but at what price? With all the increased life spans and cures, we now live in a world that has moved away from the simpler things in life. Now we spend billions of dollars on research and studies to create even more chemicals. Chemicals are bad, as we are told but practitioners of natural medicine. Nature obviously has no chemicals, because, well, it is natural. Who can argue with such beautiful reductionist logic?
Homeopathy needs to focus on remaining simple and science-free. It can be the future but it needs to stand up and be counted. Like the vaccination campaign, which the pharmaceutical companies 'created' to sell more of their products, homeopathy needs to start its own campaign to prove its efficacy once and for all to the disbelievers and in the process rid the world of a lot of disease and pain. And all the people who scream the words ‘placebo’ need to shut up. Aren’t you diluting the effects of a placebo by informing people that it is a placebo? Though the diluting might actually help, in a twisted sort of way.
I can’t wait to see the day when the entire world can be rid of its diseases without side effects, and without having to deal with all the complicated jargon of modern-day medical science. A medical revolution is round the corner, it only needs a little structure and initiative.

Author: Priyank Chandra


Thursday, 23 December 2010

Good News for Hypertensive Patients:Lizard Venom To Treat High Blood Pressure

The lizard venom can be used to treat high blood pressure, it has been found. 
Dr Bryan Fry of the University of Melbourne led a team of researchers from across the world, including Belgium, the Netherlands, Ireland, Switzerland, Israel and the US, to examine the unexplored group of venomous lizards called anguimorphs – a group that includes monitor, alligator and legless lizards.
We only recently discovered that venom in lizards was not restricted to the gila monster and beaded lizard, but it is in fact much more widespread – so we set out to examine this unique group, and sure enough we discovered completely novel toxins,” Dr Fry said.
“We showed a great diversity of toxins in anguimorph venoms. The drug design potential of these novel venoms is highlighted by the fact that three of these new toxins act to lower blood pressure.”
The huge-scale study took four years to complete and involved collecting venom from lizards all over the world, followed by complex laboratory studies to analyse the properties of the venom.
“It was a huge undertaking but the result is well worth the effort – we have discovered completely novel venoms, as well as shed light on the evolution of venom systems in animals,” Dr Fry said.
“The results obtained highlight the importance of utilizing evolution-based search strategies for biodiscovery and emphasize the largely untapped drug design and development potential of lizard venoms,” Dr Fry said.
Dr Fry will now focus on transforming the valuable lizard venom into a pharmaceutical product that could ultimately help sufferers of heart disease.
The study was published in the latest edition of the Journal of Molecular and Cellular Proteomics



Should Faith Healing ‘Do Business’ with Modern Medicine?

The healing promise of faith—its capacity to stanch bleeding or eviscerate physical illness—appears in some of the oldest texts of Western culture. The gospel accounts attributed to Matthew, for instance, tell the story of a woman who’s been bleeding (presumably an intrauterine problem) for twelve years. She sneaks up behind Jesus, thinking that if she’s able to touch even the hem of his robe, she might be riddled with the miraculous—that her body might be healed. He senses her presence and turns around. “Take heart, daughter,” he says, directing her attention away from his garment, “your faith has healed you.” And so, we’re meant to presume, it was.Anne Harrington, the Harvard historian of science, studies fields like neuroscience, but she takes miracle stories like this seriously. Stories, she says, “get under our skin,” almost like a virus or bacteria. She warns her undergraduate students that, in order to do well in her course, they’ll need to take reports of demonic possession seriously as well. More, she sees these miraculous accounts embedded within medical science itself. The suggestive power of healing—merely through hopeful belief—has long operated, in medicine, under the guise of the “placebo.” It is just one of what she calls the “mollifying objects” (pills, powders, tonics, tinctures) that doctors administer in order to make patients think they’re being healed.In early November, Harrington spoke to a crowd of religion scholars in an address at the annual American Academy of Religion conference. She spoke, primarily, about the strange medical history of the placebo, pointing to laboratory studies—conducted in the 1970s—indicating that placebos might bear a genuine biochemical effect on the body. A plethora of studies done in the wake of this research, she added, suggest that healing might occur by faith in the placebo effect alone.But, most significantly, Harrington described how the placebo effect has worked to tangle religious faith, even divinity, up in modern medicine. If the placebo can be said to “heal,” and if the placebo effect is something like a faith, a hope, or a belief, then doesn't religious faith offer something like a turbo-charged, unadulterated placebo effect?It was with this ideas in mind that numerous studies throughout the 1980s, 1990s, and early 2000s sought to determine whether religious practices such as prayer were healing forces whose efficacy could be verified through clinical trials and modern science. But, in 2006, the largest and most ambitious prayer study to date (led by the cardiologist Herbert Benson) indicated that patients who were prayed for (and were told about it, giving their treatment a placebo-like quality) fared just a bit worse than other patients in the trial.Some have read this data as discrediting the efficacy of prayer. But what Harrington wants to suggest is that this study might indicate nothing more than a failure to ask the right questions of both religion and medicine.“I thought the prayer studies were a bad idea,” Harrington told me when I visited her office at the Harvard Science Center, where her window looks out onto the Harvard Divinity School. “I can’t imagine why you would measure prayer like an anti-cholesterol drug. Researchers worried about things like ‘background prayer’ or ‘dosage.’ It was ridiculous. Prayer doesn't come in a pill.”If Harrington finds these studies problematic, she also believes that there’s much work to be done in investigating the “hybrid spaces” where religion and medicine meet. The quest to legitimize religious practices and beliefs by “proving” their efficacy in clinical trials and scientific studies is, she suggests, simply the wrong model.Too many people make the assumption, Harrington says, “that what they’re going to find in the encounter between religion and science is… people fighting.” But the reality is much more complex. This is true, of course, for the high visibility debates over evolution. Sure, there are polemical debates between skeptics and believers over the truth and validity of evolutionary theory. But there are also some wild fusions of faith and science—in the guise of, say, the Intelligent Design movement—that work to recruit a specific kind of science in order to combat another.“When you look at medicine,” says Harrington, the relationship between religion and science becomes “vastly more complicated, in part because medicine and religious faith traditions both have a claim to healing as their business. Both claim that they really heal.” What this means, effectively, is that religion and medicine (if they’re not at “loggerheads”) are going to “do business with each other.” That is, they’ll be engaged in forms of exchange and commerce.Often, religion and medicine are obligated to do business by the patient herself. Patients, who walk into a doctor’s office with concrete religious practices habituated into their daily lives, with myths and stories crawling under their skin, bring religion and medicine together whether these disparate disciplines want them to or not. Patients have been the primary cause of what Harrington calls medicine’s “imperfectly secularized” nature.Sometimes, it’s true, medicine has absolutely nothing to do with religion, or faith. “Medicine is most secular when it’s most effective,” Harrington told me. “I’ve never quite put it that way before. But I do think that when it can intervene in an acute and efficacious way, you don’t need to bring in the big questions.”A broken leg, orthopedics, dentistry: these might all be prime examples of highly secular forms of medicine. “But where medicine’s knowledge is imperfect in its capacity to intervene, and diseases become chronic, and questions arise like ‘What’s the rest of my life going to be like?’ you want to know, when you go see your doctor, that you’re more than just the sum of your tumors,” says Harrington. “You’re going to be thinking about your family, your time, your pain. People seek help or hope that can’t be packaged into a medication or a physical treatment.”Some movements, such as Hospice care, have gone a long way toward fusing the spiritual and the medical in patient care. But Harrington intimates that the “mind,” “soul,” or “spirit” factor needs to become a more integral part of how we—as a culture—understand healing practices at large.She even goes so far as to say that religion (broadly interpreted) is what drove her interest in the history of science to begin with. She started out as an historian of the brain. But, she says, “I’d become persuaded that—particularly when it came to human beings—the sciences had turned us into a bag of chemicals, a set of physiological processes. They presented a very depressing—existentially depressing—vision of what it means to be human.”She found a kind of hope in concepts such as “mind” that resisted the aggressive materialization of bodies at work in much of contemporary science. “I think we experience ourselves as spheres of awareness who aspire for infinity, or some kind of meaning. And I think that this is either absent, or grossly distorted in most contemporary scientific conversations about human beings,” she says. “So I have a kind of protectiveness over this reality of our humanness, and I do a certain kind of historical work that tries to demonstrate its power and importance.”Of course, this doesn’t mean she believes religion and medicine should always “do business” together; she sees value in their existence as disparate spheres. Harrington is interested in the “hybrid spaces” where religion and science meet, “but in no way do I think things should get mushy.” There really is, she argues, “a place for data. And I think modern science should stay in the business of being evidence-based. But I don’t think that every other healing community in the world should be building itself along the lines of that model. There’s a place for data, but you need to know what data can’t tell you.”How might those of us interested in religion begin to investigate the messy, tangled, hybrid space where faith healing meets clinical healing, then? What about, Harrington suggests, thinking of the medical office, or the surgical table, as itself a kind of “sacramental space”? This might illuminate what Harrington calls the “powerful ritual nature” of modern medicine that may—perhaps—have as much to do with the healing of some illnesses as the pill itself.“You have the ritual of the medical encounter, the authority of a doctor, the props of healing that have efficacious pharmaceutical properties, but which also convey the hopes that we put into modern biomedical research.” To read ritual into, or onto, modern medicine—to ghost medicine with the hallowed—is not to suggest that medicine is merely a ritual of healing but perhaps, Harrington might say, “it is also a ritual of healing.”
Religion dispatches

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