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Friday, 1 April 2011

Promoting authentic Unani therapies

Offering a blend of traditional concepts and scientific notions of medicine, the first modern Unani health centre of Rajasthan has started its indigenous diagnostic test facility and developed an informal platform for information-sharing among Unani scholars and physicians to promote the time-tested and authentic Greek therapies and meet new medical challenges.
“Herbs and Hakeem” is the first hospital and research centre of its kind in the State and sixth in the country providing the age-old regimen to patients in a modern ambience. The hospital claims to have revived the sanctity of the proverbial Hippocratic oath.
The centre, drawing a large number of patients who have lost hope from prolonged treatment of other medicinal streams, has installed equipment such as semi-auto-analyser, centrifuge machine and microscopes to conduct diagnostic tests on patients for deciding the future course of treatment based on “humoural theory” of the 4 {+t} {+h} Century B.C. Greek physician Hippocrates.
Noted Unani expert and the force behind “Herbs and Hakeem”, M. Ibrahim Goury, told The Hindu here that the centre would shortly diversify for critical care of serious patients along with their admission in a new in-patients department (IPD) and apply for ISO certification in view of its services gaining popularity among both the medical community and the public at large.
According to Dr. Goury, the centre is set to achieve a new distiction by offering its Unani specialist services in the out-patients department (OPD) of Santokba Durlabhji Memorial Hospital – the biggest private hospital in Rajasthan – from this coming Friday.
“Santokba Hospital soliciting our services [for its patients] proves that though different systems consider Hippocrates the Father of Medicine, the Unani system is the only medicinal stream which [still] follows the principles laid down by the doyen of medicine,” says Dr. Goury, who resigned from State Government service to devote his time and energy to Unani promotion.
“Herbs and Hakeem” has been recognised as the leading Unani institution in North India by Kozhikode-based Unani pharmaceutical firm Hermas Products, which is supplying its drugs to the centre for direct delivery to patients. Physicians at the hospital also prescribe medicines manufactured by the legendary Hamdard Dawakhana of Delhi.
Dr. Goury says the motivation for entry into an “untested field” in the desert State came from the All-India Unani Tibbi Congress, while the Deputy Adviser of Unani in the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Syed Asad Pasha, also attended the centre's inauguration here in May last year.
The hospital is successfully treating patients complaining of cervical spondylosis, frozen shoulder, carpel tunnel syndrome, low back pain, planter fascitis, slip disc, knee-joint pain, neuritis and tennis elbow. Physicians at the centre specialise in treatment of neuro-muscular disorders.
As part of the regimental therapy, physicians at the centre apply methods such as Hijamah (cupping), Alaque (leeching), Fasad (blood letting), Inkebab (steam bath) and Dalak (massage). Besides, Adviya (prescription of medicines) is done under Ilaj-bil-Dawa.
Two physicians from the centre were invited as resource persons to a national workshop on Ilaj-bil-Tadbeer organised by the Ayush Department of the Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry in New Delhi recently. Their papers on a few case studies won the appreciation of participants.
Source:The Hindu

Antibiotics Wrapped in Nanofibers

Encasing antibiotics inside nanofibers, gives them an extraordinary ability to destroy the drug-resistant bacteria completely. Scientists describe the remains as mere "ghosts".Mohamed H. El-Newehy, Ph.D., leader of the nanofibers research team, said the new technology has potentially important applications in the on-going battle against antibiotic-resistant infections. Estimates suggest that more than 100,000 people in the United States alone develop such infections each year, with nearly 20,000 deaths. Health care costs from those infections may exceed $20 billion annually.
"The rapid emergence of bacteria resistant to commonly used antibiotics has become a serious public health problem," said El-Newehy. "There is an urgent need to identify new antibiotics that work in different ways that can overcome resistance. Our approach is not a new antibiotic, but a new way of delivering existing antibiotics."
That approach, El-Newehy explained, could make new treatments available to patients much faster than trying to discover and develop brand-new medicines, a process that typically takes 10-12 years and costs $800 million to almost $2 billion. It could be used against a broad range of bacteria to fight disease, prevent bacterial and fungal contamination in the food industry, inhibit the growth of microorganisms in drinking water and enhance the effects of chemotherapy, he added.
It involves putting common antibiotics inside nanofibers made of polyvinyl alcohol and polyethylene oxide wisps of plastic-like material so small that peach hair or a strand of spider silk are gigantic by comparison. Nanofibers can't even be seen under a regular microscope, and almost a billion could be lined up side-by-side along the length of a yard stick.


No Two People are Alike, Not Even Identical Twins: Study

A new study involving an Indian-origin researcher has found that no two people are alike, even if they're identical twins.
Molecular geneticist Shiva Singh, from The University of Western Ontario, has been working with psychiatrist Richard O'Reilly to determine the genetic sequencing of schizophrenia using identical or monozygotic twins.Singh looked at about one million markers of identical twins (and their two parents) where only one twin had schizophrenia.
"The most informative feature of schizophrenia is that it sometimes runs in the family," says Singh, noting in the general population about one percent have schizophrenia.
"We started with the belief that monozygotic twins are genetically identical, so if one member of identical twins has schizophrenia, then the risk for the other twin should be 100 percent, if it's all due to genes. However, studies over the years have shown that the risk of the disease in both twins is only 50 percent." That means either the twins are genetically not identical or the familial disease involves non-genetic (random) effects.
Singh found about 12 per cent of DNA can vary across individuals, "Cells are dividing as we develop and differentiate. More importantly, these cells may lose or acquire additional DNA. The genome is not static," he added.
The study is published in this month's PLoS ONE. 


Nicotine in Cigarettes can Worsen Diabetes

Diabetics who are addicted to smoking have been warned that their condition could be worsened by nicotine present in the cigarettes or in the nicotine replacement therapy used by those who are trying to quit the habit.
Researchers from the California State Polytechnic University in Pomona found that nicotine is directly linked to increased blood sugar levels among diabetics and prolonged consumption of the chemical can worsen the condition among diabetics and could even turn serious.Presenting their study at the 241st national meeting of the American Chemical Society in California, the researchers revealed that when they conducted blood tests among smokers, they found that those who were diabetic saw an increase in their long term blood sugar levels.
“This study should encourage diabetics to quit smoking completely, and to realize that it's the nicotine that's raising [blood sugar levels]”, lead researcher, Xiao-Chuan Liu said. 



Meet on Aswagandha held at CIMAP

In a day-long meet organised onAshwagandha at the Central Institute of Medicinaland Aromatic Plants, experts were of the view that it is necessary to increase the production of the plant, which is valued in different systems of medicine, especially in Ayurveda and Unani. The plant is regarded as Indian Ginseng by many practitioners. Its roots are effective in arthritis. "It is necessary to increase its quality production using technologies developed by CIMAP," said AK Singh, head technology and business development. In the meet, about 50 participants comprising farmers, buyers, government officials and scientists participated. The meet was sponsored by National Horticulture Board, Gurgaon. The scientists told about the various high yielding varieties and explained the improved methodologies of sowing of Ashwagandha. 

Thursday, 31 March 2011

Dept of Ayush to hold nationwide survey on usage, acceptability of Ayush drugs soon

 Department of Ayush will launch the much-delayed comprehensive survey on the usage and accessibility of drugs of different streams like Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani and Homoeopathy to further streamline them into national mainstream programmes and help formulate policies and strategies. The survey, which has been pending since the 10th Five Year Plan, is expected to begin from July 2011 and would conclude by June 2012, and modalities had been completed, sources said. “Survey is going to assess the status of Ayush systems in the country officially and would help immensely to formulate the policies and strategies in the future,” a senior official said. The idea of such a survey was first proposed for completing during the 10th Plan period itself, but could not make any progress. Though the Government sanctioned Rs.66 lakhs for this purpose in budget for the current year, no further action was taken. “The delay was mainly due to finalization of an agency/institution having capacity and competence for conducting nation-wide household survey. Latest position is that the National Sample Survey Organization (NSSO) has been requested to undertake the survey for Ayush along with their Socio-Economic Survey,” official said. The Health Department has also been requested to include such a survey in the next National Health and Family Welfare Survey. “Initially NSSO conveyed that they may not conduct this survey for Ayush before 2014. Department of Ayush further approached to National Statistical Commission to persuade the NSSO for undertaking Ayush survey with forthcoming annual round of SE Survey. Now NSC in its meetings in May last year decided that the request for a survey by Ayush could be accommodated by adding questions in the Consumer Expenditure Survey Schedule,” the official added.

Prepare For Old Age

Women need to start as early as possible to prepare for a healthy old age, claim researchers at the University of Newcastle and University of Queensland in a joint study.Not just individuals, but communities and healthcare systems need to be involved in the health and social changes connected to ageing, the researchers state in their ‘The Women, Health and Ageing’ report which is part of an ongoing study that involves more than 40,000 women who have been repeatedly surveyed since 1996. The report was released at the Australian Association of Gerontology NSW Rural Conference. The study found that although most older women were living with multiple health conditions and increasing levels of disability, the most common one being arthritis, many were still actively involved in ‘providing care for others and making major contributions to their communities.’ A note of caution also came through in the report about the health status of young women today as they started to age, for right now they face the problems posed by obesity and smoking. "Ageing well needs healthy inputs throughout life and requires starting early," warns Professor Julie Byles from the University of Newcastle in the study. 

Colour Vision Hampered by Thyroid

What part does the thyroid gland have in vision? Thyroid hormone is crucially involved in controlling which visual pigment is produced in the cones. Previously, it was assumed that the colour sensitivity of the cones is fixed in the adult retina. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research in Frankfurt/M., together with colleagues at the University of Frankfurt and universities in Vienna, have now been able to show that in mature cones of mice and rats the production of visual pigment is regulated by thyroid hormone. It is assumed that this mechanism exists in all mammals, including humans. If so, the adult-onset of thyroid hormone deficiency would affect colour vision.
Thyroid hormone has a crucial role during development of the body and also of the nervous system. Children born with a thyroid hormone deficiency have serious defects of physiological and mental development, hence newborns are routinely checked for thyroid hormone deficiency, and hormone substitution therapy is given when indicated. 

Studies in mice have shown that thyroid hormone also plays an important role in the development of the eye and particularly the cone visual cells. In the retina of the eye, the cones are the visual cells responsible for colour vision. Most mammals have two spectral cone types containing either of two visual pigments (opsins), one sensitive to shortwave light (UV/blue opsin), the other to middle-to-longwave light (green opsin). Cones express a thyroid hormone receptor. Its activation by the hormone suppresses the synthesis of UV/blue opsin and activates the production of green opsin.


Food Dyes Linked to ADHD

The role of dye additives and its impact on the behavior of children has been under study by a Food and Drug Administration advisory committee.
After first listening to the public and the industry, the committee heard what doctors and scientists had to say on the subject. The experts state that children most definitely show signs of hyperactivity when they have been exposed to certain dye mixtures.lthough European companies have stopped using dyes including Blue #1, Yellow #5, Green #3 and others and substituting these with natural dyes , the United States still allows artificial dyes  for aesthetic reasons.
In 1975, Dr. Benjamin Feingold’s book "Why Your Child is Hyperactive" brought up the issue of food dyes impacting deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. The doctor stated that if these food dyes were got rid of, hyperactivity would drop dramatically. But critics claim that the design of the studies has been weak and the data inconsistent.  They said that the study focused only on small groups; the findings were reported by parents, not clinicians; and the dyes were not tested individually. A 2007 project conducted by researchers at the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom brought back attention on the issue when it showed that artificial food dyes, along with   a food preservative, increased ADHD symptoms in both hyperactive and non-hyperactive children. 

Although evidence is said to be weak again, Michael Jacobsen, executive director of the Center for Science and the Public Interest, a watchdog group on nutrition and food safety says artificial food dyes are not safe for humans and can be connected to numerous health problems, including ADHD allergies, even cancer.
He asks, “There are other factors that could affect child behavior, but if we can take out food dyes as a factor, why not?" Now, the point is whether the FDA committee will ask the same question


Homeopathy pops a growth pill in Gujarat

While the homeopathy industry in the country clocking a 30 per cent growth rate, the homeopathic clinics in the state seem to have received a shot in the arm, with some of them reporting even 100 per cent growth in the last two years.
Apex industry chamber Assocham (Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India) has recently said in its report that the overall homeopathy industry in the country is likely to reach a size of Rs 4,600 crore as the number of takers is growing fast within India. Globally, the homeopathy market is estimated at Rs 26,300 crore with France being the largest contributor, according to the study by Assocham. Last year, the domestic homeopathy market size was about Rs 2,758 crore.A Batra of Dr. Batra's Clinic, which operates four clinics in Gujarat including two at Ahmedabad, one each at Vadodara and Surat, said, "Our initial years in the state witnessed slow growth rates, around 5-10 per cent. But, in the last two years we have managed to grow by over 100 per cent. The interest in homeopathy has been steadily been on the rise, especially with the state chief minister Narendra Modi saying that he is a user himself."
Buoyed by the response, Dr. Batra's is now planning to start a fifth clinic at Rajkot within the next five to six months. Batra feels that this renewed interest in homeopathy is indeed a significant development in the context of Gujarat which is one of the major allopathic pharmaceutical manufacturing hubs in the country. Another city based clinic, Happy Homeo Store and Clinic said, that one of the main reasons why people are now taking interest in homeopathy is that it is a relatively safer mode of treatment for children.
Almost one in three children in India suffer from some kind of allergy, and homeopathy can offer safe and long-term solutions to allergies, said a Happy Homeo official.
The Assocham reports cites reasons for growing homeopathy market in India, saying that homeopathy, besides providing for effective means treating chronic aliments is also available and easily accessible online to over 1.5 crore patients across the country.
The online homeopathy connectivity worldwide is available in more than 95 countries and interestingly a majority of them are economies of scale in which allopathy until recently has been more prevalent and in vogue.
In 2009-10, patients diagnosing their aliments with homeopathy throughout the country were estimated at 10-12 crore, whose number is likely to exceed to about 16 crore in the next two to three years in view of its popularity and acceptability among the general masses, says the study.
There are over 5 lakh registered homeopaths in the country currently, with approximately 20,000 more being added every year.
Source:Business Standard

Convention Against Govt. Policy On Illegal Ayurveda

 The Ayurveda Unity Forum organised a convention to protest against Govt. approval to protect the livelihood of illegal Ayurvedic and Homeo medicine practitioners (vaidyans) in the Malabar area. This was organised at the Ayurveda College premises on Tuesday.The convention was inaugurated by Prof. R  V  G Menon who stressed the need to bring this issue into the public domain. “There needs to be awareness among the public of such illegal practitioners. Cheating in the name of Ayurveda is common nowadays and the mushrooming of massage parlours in the name of Ayurveda is one instance of deceiving people. Demand for such people doesn’t mean that such unscrupulous practices be legalized. Mass campaigning is the need of the hour.”Among those who attended the convention were sculptor Kaanai Kunjiraman, Dr. P K Mohanlal, Chairman of the Unity Forum, and Nemom Pushparaj, personality from the Film and Cultural Forum.
Dr. Mohanlal stressed the need to identify such illegal practioners and take action against them. “Kerala is the hot spot for all these so called vaidyans who cheat people with their half-baked knowledge. The rules to safeguard the health of the people are overlooked by the govt. and weightage is given to protect the rights of such fake practioners."
 Sculptor Kaanai Kunjiraman added “There are some traditional people who have great knowledge in this field and we need to make the most of such knowledge. At the same time we need to address the issue of people who exploit this field illegally. The only way out is to raise awareness among the public." Nemom Pushparaj who was also present stressed the need of mass campaigning to sensitize the public.
"The Govt.’s justification to safeguard the interests of traditional practitioners is a bluff as they are nothing but fake Ayurveda practioners. Anyone can practice Ayurveda provided they have the approval of a Tahasildar. For the past twenty years illegal practice has been going on and the public are being cheated,” said PK Mohanlal.The Ayurveda Unity forum along with the Ayurveda student community will protest strongly against this issue and conduct campaigns in Ernakulam soon.

Major changes in MBBS curriculum proposed

The Board of Governors of the Medical Council of India (MCI) has proposed major changes in the undergraduate curriculum and training programme that would create an “Indian Medical Graduate,” who will have necessary competence to assume his or her role as a healthcare provider.
The “Indian Medical Graduate” will have to pass an exit exam or a licentiate examination after an internship to get licence to practise anywhere in the country. The national-level exit exam is expected to set a standard for doctors. The MCI also proposes to introduce the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test from 2012.
A new two-year Master of Medicine (M. Med) programme is also proposed with focus on skill development. Degree holders will be eligible to teach undergraduate courses. There will be no competitive exam for this course and the assessment will be based on the student's performance during the course and the national exit exam.The restructured curriculum laid emphasis on clinical exposure, integration of basic and clinical sciences, clinical competence and skills and new teaching-learning methodologies that would lead to a new generation of graduates of global standards, Dr. S.K. Sarin, Chairperson, Board of Governors of the MCI, said here on Tuesday, after a day-long national meet on “Implementation of Reforms in Undergraduate and Postgraduate Medical Education” where the proposed reforms were adopted.The proposals will have to be approved by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare before their implementation in 2012.The licentiate system, if approved, would be optional between 2012 and 2016, but mandatory thereon, Dr. Sarin said. While the duration of the undergraduate course would remain five-and-half-years, a two-month Foundation Course after admission to prepare a student to study medicine effectively is proposed. This would help in orienting students to national health scenarios, medical ethics, health economics, learning skills and communication, life support, biohazard and environment safety.The new curriculum had been structured to facilitate horizontal and vertical integration between disciplines and bridge the gaps between theory and practice. In the first year, focus would be on basic and laboratory sciences (integrated with their clinical relevance), while in the second and third years, focus would be on clinical exposure and learning. Clinical training would start in the first year and there would be more focus on common problems seen in outpatients and emergency settings.Importantly, an ‘elective' subject had been added to the ‘core' subjects to allow flexible learning options in the curriculum and the options include clinical electives, laboratory postings and or community exposure in areas that students were not normally exposed to as part of the regular curriculum.The post-graduate specialisation would essentially involve a research component and prepare this group of specialists to pursue the academic stream.Dr. Sarin said that after M. Med, students would have the option of pursuing one of the five doctorate streams depending on the aptitude and professional aspirations. After M. Med, the graduates would be able to compete for Doctor of Medicine or Master of Surgery or other dual programmes (MD-PhD, MHA, MD-DM and MD-fellowships).An additional weightage of 5 per cent would be given to candidates for putting in six months of intensive rural service during the M. Med course. The duration after finishing MBBS course would be M. Med (2 years); one more year will get candidate an MD degree. Candidate would get dual degrees after four years and he or she has a choice to go on a fellowship programme or a Ph D programme or a DM degree in five years.
Source:The Hindu

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

5 Experts Answer: What's the Best Way to Improve Memory?

Dr. Jane F. Potter, chief of the Division of Geriatrics and Gerontology at the University of Nebraska Medical Center; past president of the American Geriatrics Society:"A person needs to remain mentally active. What actually happens is that as we get older, connections in the brain — what we call synapses — really are stimulated by mental activity, so this helps to preserve mental ability. Just being well-educated is a good idea and so, again, the idea is that education and mental stimulation helps to create and preserve and develop new connections. So taking a course later, after one's normally left formal schooling, is a good idea."In terms of diet, following what's otherwise a good heart-healthy diet is good for memory because what's good for your heart is good for your brain. And you can actually stimulate develop of new brain cells with physical activity."There's some evidence that you can do your brain some good with stress reduction. Those are cognitive-behavioral types of programs that people do and relaxation techniques, and sometimes there are classes that teach one to do those things. There are human studies where if you measure stress as being jobless and in poverty, the more of those periods of stress you have, the more likely you are to develop dementia or serious memory problems. And once again, people who are under stress acutely will have more trouble with focus and concentration."
Dr. James Mastrianni, Associate Professor of Neurology; Co-Director, Center for Comprehensive Care and Research on Memory Disorders at the University of Chicago Medical Center:
"Are there things one can do to avoid developing Alzheimer's disease or memory decline associated with aging? The answer is yes. Some things are obvious, while others may be less apparent. Doing crossword puzzles, solving word jumbles, playing Sudoku or other 'brain exercises' can't hurt, but they have not yet been proven to improve inherent memory or delay the onset of Alzheimer's disease."Lifestyle changes that have shown benefit include routine physical exercise, staying socially active and eating a heart-healthy diet. At least 30 minutes a day of physical activity such as walking, biking or any other aerobic workout gets your heart pumping and improves oxygenation of brain cells. Social activity may include staying actively working, or volunteering in local organizations or clubs.  Research suggests that having a large network of social interactions helps to maintain good brain function and even delay Alzheimer's disease."A heart-healthy diet low in cholesterol and fat, not only reduces overall weight, but it lowers risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes and stroke, all of which can contribute to impaired brain function and memory. Some foods, by virtue of their anti-oxidant potential, may protect against memory decline and Alzheimer's disease. Omega-3 fatty acid is thought to promote the health of the membrane of brain cells or act as an antioxidant."Finally, eliminating unhealthy practices such as cigarettes, too little sleep, and too much stress can't hurt and are likely to help your brain function better."
Dr. Gary Small, professor of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences, Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior and director of the Memory & Aging Research Center, at the University of California, Los Angeles:"The most effective method for remembering almost anything, especially the most common memory challenge of remembering someone's name uses three basic memory skills I call: LOOK, SNAP, CONNECT. First, make sure you really take the time to focus on the name (LOOK). Then, create mental snapshots (SNAP), visual images of the name and the face. Finally, CONNECT the name snap with the face snap by creating additional images so you can easily retrieve the information later."Here's how it works: To create a visual snapshot or SNAP for the face, pick out a facial feature that may be easy to remember. Look at the person's face and search for the most distinguishing feature, whether it is a small nose, large ears, unusual hairdo or deep dimples. Often the first outstanding feature you notice is the easiest to recall later."To create the name SNAP, note that all names can be placed into two groups: those that have meaning and invoke visual images, and those that don't. Names like Katz, Brooks, Carpenter, Bishop, Siegel, White or Silver all have a meaning that can bring an image to mind. When I meet Mr. Siegel, I think of a sea gull, and I see a couple of cats playing together to help me remember Mrs. Katz. When I meet a Bill for the first time, I might see a dollar bill. A Democrat might instead first see our former president, Bill Clinton. Meeting Ms. Lincoln might make you think of a Lincoln Continental automobile, or the Lincoln Memorial."
Dr. Monique M. Williams, assistant professor of medicine and psychiatry in the Division of Geriatrics and Nutritional Science at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Mo.:"Maintaining and improving memory is a growing area of research, and optimizing memory is important over the lifespan. We need to have an environment that nurtures memory function. Be sure to have an area that is quiet and free from distractions. Multitasking is not an efficient means to accomplish tasks. Spreading out learning, rather than cramming, can help you to retain information."Many people find mnemonics to be useful. For example, suppose you meet a new student in yoga class who just arrived in town from Baltimore. Jane Doe's name may be easier to remember if you have amemory device such as 'Jane Doe from yoga' or 'Jane Doe from Baltimore.'"Maintaining memory as we get older is still a growing field of research, so much of the information that we have is preliminary, and more studies are needed.These early studies suggest that the idea of 'use it or lose it' is important. Doing activities that challenge your mind may be helpful. Some studies suggest that these brain exercises are more beneficial when socialization is included, such as a book club, trivia night or games. Physical activity and a heart healthy diet may be helpful for maintaining memory and thinking as well."
Dr. Melanie Shulman, assistant professor of neurology and associate director of Cognitive and Behavioral Neurology at the Pearl Barlow Center for Memory Evaluation and Treatment at the Silberstein Alzheimer's Institute at NYU Langone Medical Center:"There are four main pillars of keeping healthy memory or maintaining brain fitness: healthy diet, being physically fit (exercise), keeping mentally stimulated and avoiding depression. There is no single entity that we can modify that will decrease the likelihood of someone developing Alzheimer's. It's a combination of applying these different modalities."Having a good diet — low in saturated fats, high in vegetables, high in fiber — does lower the likelihood of developing cerebrovascular disease, which we know is associated with declining memory. And of all the things that are studied, the thing with the most consistent benefits is aerobic exercise. When you start exercising, there's evidence of improvement of metabolic brain function. When you add a healthy diet as well as exercise, it's worth more than the sum of their parts."The issue with avoiding depression is a controversial one: Is depression itself a risk factor for dementia, or is the early sign of depression the earliest sign of dementia itself? It looks increasingly like it's a risk factor for Alzheimer's disease, and there's a whole host of complicated reasons, but it does seem that if you keep stress-free and depression-free, that in and of itself is insurance for healthy aging."The fourth pillar is keeping intellectually stimulated. The more educated you are, that is a little bit of a buffer for prevention of Alzheimer's disease. And if you have an intellectually stimulating job, that creates something of a buffer called cognitive reserve. Maybe you're building up a more densely networked brain, and you're more able to resist the earliest pathological changes that are associated with Alzheimer's disease."
Pass it onRegularly exercising, eating healthy foods, keeping intellectually stimulated and avoiding depression and stress are the main ways to preserve your memory. Memory tricks can also improve your short-term memory.
Courtesy:My Health News

Tea is as Hydrating as Water

 Researchers in UK have found out that drinking 4-6cups of tea per day is as healthy as drinking 1.5 liters of water. The study has shown that tea does not lead to dehydration but is as hydrating as plain water.It is commonly believed that caffeine causes dehydration and deprives the body of necessary fluids by increasing the urge to urinate.21 men with an average age of 36years who generally did not have any caffeinated drink were part of the study. Within a period of 12hours they were supposed to drink four 240ml mugs of tea with 20ml of semi-skimmed milk and no sugar or the same amount of warm, boiled water. A similar test was repeated with 6cups of tea or about 1.5 liters of plain water. To check hydration levels blood samples were taken before consumption of the drink and also at regular intervals. 

Dietitians at the Tea Advisory Panel found that 6cups of tea and 1.5 liters water offered similar hydrating properties. This study has been published in the British Journal of Nutrition. 


Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Hindu statesman Zed honored at Art of Living headquarters in Bengaluru

Hindu statesman Rajan Zed was honored at Art of Living international headquarters in Bengaluru (India) on March 29.
 Art of Living founder and humanitarian-spiritual-peace leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar presented Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, with an orange angavastram during his visit to the ashram.Two religious leaders also discussed various spiritual, religion, interfaith dialogue, etc., issues during their meeting.
 Art of Living Foundation, which operates in 151 countries, seeks to help build a global society that is free of stress, violence, and misery—and full of service, wisdom, and celebration. 
 Rajan Zed is a religious leader who has taken up interfaith, religion, Hinduism, environment, Roma and other causes all over the world. He is panelist for “On Faith”, a prestigious interactive conversation on religion produced by The Washington Post. Bestowed with “World Interfaith Leader Award”, he is Senior Fellow and Religious Advisor to New York headquartered Foundation for Interreligious Diplomacy, Director of Interfaith Relations of Nevada Clergy Association, Spiritual Advisor to National Association of Interchurch & Interfaith Families, etc.

Ayurveda gaining scientific acceptance

The Ayurveda education and research is gaining scientific acceptance and approval. It is an encouraging sign for age-old traditional medicine system of the country, vice-chancellor ofUttarakhand Ayurveda University, Dehradun, SP Mishra said while inaugurating one-day national seminar on `Emerging trends in education and research in Ayurveda' (NSETERA-2011), organised by faculty of Ayurveda, Banaras Hindu University at Rajiv Gandhi South Campus (RGSC), Barkachha, Mirzapur, on Monday. Mishra emphasised on upgrading the education and research in the subject to become a standard discipline. Presiding over the inaugural session, BHU V-C DP Singh highlighted the contribution of Madan Mohan Malviya, the founder of the university, who initiated the establishment of one of the oldest Ayurvedic institutes in the country. Singh stressed on the need to treasure the indigenous and traditional knowledge of Ayurveda and disseminate it scientifically to other parts of the world. Later, talking to reporters, BHU V-C hinted at release of Rs 100 crore soon for extension and development of RGSC. He indicated that once the fund is released, the campus would witness development.
Dean, faculty of Ayurveda, VK Joshi said that the department is going to introduce MPharma programme from the next academic session and efforts are being made to attract foreign students for the two-month introductory course in Ayurveda and one-year certificate course.
RGSC OSD Onkar Singh, organising secretary DNS Gautam and several faculty members were present on the occasion.  

Monday, 28 March 2011

Exercise helps fight fear of falling

 The American Geriatric Society recently added Tai Chi as a form of exercise to its list of recommendations for older people who run a high risk of falling. Checking for hearing loss has been on that list for awhile now.
In its recent updates, the society recommends that physicians review medications that their elderly patients take, and reduce the use of those that increase the risk of falling, such as anti-depressants and sleeping aids. Previously, it suggested reviewing medications if a patient was taking four or more meds. The recommendations are for patients age 65 and older, which is considered geriatric, who run a high risk of falling.According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, falls are the leading cause of injury deaths among older adults in the United States, and the rate of those deaths has risen by more than 50 per cent over the past decade.
In 2002, more than 12,800 people over age 65 died and 1.6 million were treated in emergency departments because of falls. In 2007, more than 18,000 people died after falls; in 2009, more than 2.2 million older people visited emergency departments for nonfatal falls.
The CDC estimates that one out of 10 falls among older people results in serious injuries that require hospitalization and that many people spend a year or more recovering in long-term care facilities. Some never go home.
Those numbers are expected to continue growing dramatically as baby boomers age.
Dr. Dulce Cruz-Oliver, assistant professor of the department of internal medicine and geriatrics at St. Louis University, said older people who have fallen in the past run a particularly high risk of falling again.
"There are many factors that contribute to the increased risk, including changes in posture and gait, medical conditions such as dementia, Parkinson’s disease and stroke, poor eyesight and hearing," Cruz-Oliver said.
Your risk of falling increases when the number of these biological and environment factors increase, she said. Family doctors can determine whether you’re at risk.
Cruz-Oliver said the best way to maintain a keen sense of balance is to exercise, and to start it in your 50s before you begin losing it.
"If you don’t use it, you lose it," she said. "Balance is something you should continually train and use."
T’ai Chi has been proved to decrease falls in the elderly. Gait-training, physical therapy and dancing help as well, though fewer studies exist on their effectiveness.
"You need to do it one to three times a week for more than 12 weeks to really have an impact on decreasing falls," she said.
Krojanker, 88, has been taking Tai Chi for 10 years. When asked if he’s ever fallen, he said: "Well, of course. When I took Jiu Jitsu."
That was several years ago, when he was in his 70s. But no, he said, he hasn’t fallen since.
"How can people balance their bodies if they don’t know where their balance is?" Krojanker asked. "They need to become better aware of their bodies. In Tai Chi, the waist is the commander of balance, not the head."
Two instructors with the St. Louis T’ai Chi Ch’uan Association led a group of about 20 through the class at The Monday Club. At least half a dozen of the participants appeared to be over age 65.
Mike David, one of the Tai Chi instructors, has noticed the number of older people coming to class increase significantly during the past decade.
"Baby boomers are coming of age, so to speak, so that might have something to do with it," said David, 63, of St. Louis.
In addition to lowering blood pressure, helping with rheumatoid arthritis, increasing breath efficiency and reducing stress hormones, David said Tai Chi employs small muscles that aren’t often used but help with staying upright.
"Also you try to keep your center of attention in your core area, which is where your energy should come from," he said.
Several years ago, David recalls, a woman who had two hip replacements and was walking with a four-prong cane began taking Tai Chi lessons with him.
"When she came in I thought, ’Oh boy.’ She said she was really afraid of falling," he said. "After one month, she threw her cane away.
"A fear of falling changes not just the way you move but the way you live," he said. "Then you gain more weight by being docile and there’s more stress every time you have to move and it multiplies from there."
Reducing risks for falls
Recommendations by The American Geriatric Society and The British Geriatric Society to help reduce the risk of falling.
Exercise: Take part in programs that help improve balance, gait and strength training, such as Tai Chi or physical therapy.
Environment: Make changes to reduce your fall risk factors in the home and in daily activities, such as keeping high traffic areas clear of furniture or clutter.
Vision: Undergo cataract surgery when needed, though not as an individual approach.
Fewer meds: Reduce medications, regardless of the number prescribed, particularly those that affect the brain such as sleeping medications and antidepressants. In 2001 this was only recommended for elderly people who were on at least four medications.
Blood pressure: Raise low blood pressure and manage heart rate and rhythm abnormalities. Consuming more salt and water and wearing compression stockings can raise low blood pressure. In extreme cases, doctors can prescribe fludrocortisone to control low blood pressure. Sometimes, doctors can control irregular heartbeats by altering medications.
Home safety
Home safety check list from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Avoid slipping: Remove rugs or use double-sided tape or a nonslip backing so to avoid slipping, or remove altogether and attach nonslip rubber treads. Put a nonslip rubber mat or self-stick strips on the floor of bath tub or shower.
Tidy up: Always keep objects off the floor and stairs.
Cords: Coil or tape cords and wires next to the wall to avoid tripping.
Too loose?: Fix loose or uneven steps. If handrails are loose, maybe it’s time to install new ones. Make sure they’re on both sides of the stairs and are as long as the stairs.
Lighting: Install an overhead light and light switch at the top and bottom of the stairs. Place a lamp close to the bed so that it’s easy to reach. Consider using a night-light so you can see when you’re walking to the bathroom in the dark. Some night lights go on automatically when it’s dark.
Sightlines: Paint a contrasting color on the top edge of all steps so you can see them better.
Stepping up: If you must use a step stool, get one with a bar to hold on to. Never use a chair.
Getting up: Install grab bars inside the tub and next to the toilet if you need help getting up or out of them.
Source:The Gazette


10 things to learn from Japan.

   Not a single visual of chest-beating or wild grief. Sorrow itself
has been elevated.

   Disciplined queues for water and groceries. Not a rough word or a
crude gesture.

   The incredible architects, for instance. Buildings swayed but didn’t fall.

  People bought only what they needed for the present, so everybody
could get something.

  No looting in shops. No honking and no overtaking on the roads.
Just understanding.

  Fifty workers stayed back to pump sea water in the N-reactors. How
will they ever be repaid?

  Restaurants cut prices. An unguarded ATM is left alone. The strong
cared for the weak.

   The old and the children, everyone knew exactly what to do. And
they did just that.

   They showed magnificent restraint in the bulletins. No silly
reporters. Only calm reportage.

    When the power went off in a store, people put things back on
the shelves and left quietly!

Gordon Maelzer

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Yoga For Peace: Montclair Yoga Teacher Joins Dalai Lama

Debby Kaminsky is a yoga instructor and a mother of two, but she likes to be known as something else.“I call myself the ‘Peace Igniter,” she said.Kaminsky teaches yoga at workshops around Essex County, but she is also proud of teaching yoga at Newark’s public schools and of her participation in the upcoming Newark Peace Education Summit from May 13-15.“I’m incredibly excited,” says Kaminsky. “They asked me to be on the advisory committee and oversee the yoga component.”She said the peace summit will have such honored guests as The Dalai Lama, Nobel Laureates and local celebrities, including Mayor Cory A. Booker.But Kaminsky isn’t the only suburban yoga instructor taking her practice to work for peace. Jennifer Kohl, founder of “Lotus in Action” yoga studio in Montclair, will also be taking part in the summit. Both Kohl and Kaminsky are visiting instructors in the Newark public school system and both teach privately at their own studios.“Through yoga, I can create positive change in my life and community,” says Kohl. “It’s all fine and well for Debby and I to go into Newark and teach yoga, but the way to really help people is to contribute to a sustainable practice within their communities.” Kohl said her goal is to help Newark residents learn to teach yoga themselves, which in turn helps spread the message of yoga.“In yoga, the word 'shantih' means peace,” explains Kaminsky. “The first shantih is for peace within, the second shantih is for peace with others and the third shantih is for peace in the world/universe. One can't have peace with others unless one has peace with oneself. Yoga is an incredible way of getting you there."Kaminsky and Kohl work with children in Newark’s public and charter schools but are looking for ways to expand their outreach. Kohl will be working with the Tiki Barber Opportunity League to bring yoga into Newark’s city parks this summer. (The Opportunity League, in conjunction with “Let’s Move! Newark,” is part of Michelle Obama’s campaign to end childhood obesity.) As part of their philosophical approach to their work, both Kohl and Kaminsky practice yoga with low income, special needs and underserved portions of the population.“Lotus Studio in Montclair opened six years ago,” says Kohl. “It served people who wouldn’t otherwise be doing yoga, like women in shelters recovering from drug and alcohol addiction. We went into schools, hospitals and detention centers, where people could use yoga to improve the quality of their health and well-being.”She said Lotus Yoga teaches at an orphanage in Ecuador every year. “It’s an honor to teach someone from a different cultural environment,” says Kohl. “It helps you .
Source:Montclair Patch

Cuban Doctors Are Accepted Into U.S. But Face Problems Practicing Medicine

It all started with a cowboy hat.
Roberto Carmona snuck away from his superiors disguised as a South African cowboy. While working in Namibia, the doctor donned boots and a big hat so he could slip out to the American Embassy, where he asked about qualifying for a special program for Cuban physicians that he hoped would let him defect to the U.S.Nearly a year later, he was accepted, just days before his overseas job ended. Carmona fled to Tampa, but escaping his homeland turned out to be the easy part.
Carmona and a number of other Cuban physicians who defected while on overseas assignments have confronted a frustrating contradiction in American medicine: They were allowed into the U.S. because they are doctors. But, once here, they cannot treat patients because Cuba has refused to release or certify their academic records.
Without transcripts, it's nearly impossible for the doctors to take the required medical board exams and to get approval from the U.S. group that accredits foreign physicians."To come to this country, we have to spend so much time demonstrating to U.S. immigration officials we are doctors and show them so many documents," Carmona said. "Then why is it once we are here, they don't believe us and make it so difficult for us to work in our profession?"
Cuba, which views the defectors as traitors, pays for its doctors' training and has for years sent them on goodwill missions abroad to provide free health care in poor countries.
In 2006, the U.S. created a special visa program specifically for Cubans on those missions, and more than 1,500 Cuban doctors, dentists and other medical professionals have used the visas to flee to the U.S., according to the State Department.
It's unclear how many doctors face the same problem as Carmona. The Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates, a private nonprofit that oversees the accrediting process, said at least 20 have asked for waivers because of problems getting documents. And the numbers are likely to grow.
Emilio Gonzalez, former head of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services who helped create the Cuban Medical Professional Parole Program, said the problem was relatively new. He suggested allowing doctors to begin residency programs or other retraining as they await approval to take the boards.
"There is a credentialing problem," Gonzalez said. But, he added, "there are ways to be creative."
Even when paperwork is readily available, the American accreditation system for foreign doctors is difficult. They must pass three lengthy exams in English, which often cost thousands of dollars. But without academic transcripts, they cannot prove they studied medicine.
Carmona was among a half-dozen Cuban doctors interviewed by The Associated Press about their decision to defect while working abroad -- a move that risks not seeing loved ones again for many years. The doctors are allowed to stay in the U.S. regardless of whether they practice medicine. The federal government's "wet-foot, dry-foot" policy says any Cuban who makes it to American shores can remain in the country.
Some became disillusioned with Cuba's communist system and left to escape economic and political repression. Others were frustrated by poor living and working conditions in their host country.
The defectors described taking extreme steps, like Carmona's cowboy getup, to avoid raising the suspicion of Cuban and local officials. Most spoke on condition of anonymity, fearing retribution against family in Cuba or further problems in obtaining transcripts. Some have yet to apply for accreditation.
Carmona said he became disillusioned with the Cuban system in medical school when he saw doctors paid $25 a month and forced to moonlight in other jobs to buy food when government rations ran out.
His application was denied to work in Venezuela, where the Cuban government has sent more than 30,000 health professionals in exchange for subsidized oil shipments. Then in 2007, he was offered a post in Namibia on the West African coast just north of South Africa.
At the time, his girlfriend was four months' pregnant and had already requested a U.S. visa through a separate process. It seemed his only chance to leave.
Since the Cuban medical parole program began, 444 graduates of Cuban medical schools have passed their board exams and been accredited, according to the Educational Commission. However, it's unclear how many of those came to the U.S. under the special program.
Educational Commission Vice President Bill Kelly said physicians can submit affidavits from other doctors who attended medical school with them or request a waiver from the commission's executive board.
"Anybody who indicates they don't have their transcripts, we point them in the right direction," Kelly said.
Carmona said he had tried to talk to someone at the commission about an alternative and enlisted help from state politicians, all to no avail.
Following an inquiry by the AP, Kelly suggested Carmona contact him directly and then offered to allow Carmona to provide the affidavits.
Dr. Julio Cesar Alfonso, head of the South Florida group Solidarity Without Borders Inc., which helps Cuban medical professionals with the parole program, has been lobbying to change the accrediting procedure. He said he's talked with more than two dozen doctors in the same predicament as Carmona.
Getting transcripts authenticated can be tough even when Cubans come to the U.S. with their government's permission.
Dentist Yenia Lopez left Cuba with that government's permission in 2008 after getting a U.S. visa, which is done through a lottery program because so many people apply. Milwaukee-based Educational Credential Evaluators, which accredits foreign dentists, rejected her application because it could not reconcile two versions of her transcripts.
Lopez said she initially sent an unofficial version and then provided her original copy, but there were discrepancies between the two. The company said it tried five times to verify the documents with Cuba, then closed her case in 2010, effectively ending her chances of working as a dentist in the U.S.
"I feel like they are in Wisconsin, and they just don't understand how things work in Cuba, and how complicated it is even to obtain the simplest documents," said Lopez, who has offered to pay the cost of additional verification attempts and now works as a dental assistant. "This is the rest of my life they are deciding."
As for Carmona, he is now a medical assistant and is saving money with his girlfriend, who came to the U.S. with their baby. He said he hoped his case would help other doctors like himself.
"I just want to do what I love," he said, "to be a doctor.
Courtesy:AP's Laura Wides-Munoz
Source:Fox News



Experts to discuss progress in ayurveda edu

The ayurveda department under the Institute of Medical Sciences (IMS), Banaras Hindu University (BHU), will organise a one-day national seminar on 'emerging trends in education and research in ayurveda' at Rajiv Gandhi South Campus (RGSC), Barkachha (Mirzapur), on March 28.Dr D N S Gautam, organising secretary of the seminar, said that more than 300 delegates and ayurveda experts from different parts of the country would take part in the seminar.The seminar will entail five technical sessions in which the recent advancements made in the areas of ayurveda education and research would be presented through oral and poster presentations.The programme would focus on the necessity of standardisation of ayurvedic/herbal preparations, research development, teaching methodology in ayurveda and role of medicinal plants in the management of various diseases, Gautam added.Vice-chancellor of Uttarakhand Ayurveda University, Dehradun, S P Mishra would inaugurate the seminar, while BHU V-C D P Singh will preside over the inaugural session.Workshop concludes: The two-day national workshop on 'research report writing' organised by the department of education, BHU (Kamaccha), concluded on Saturday. Various methods of writing research reports were discussed by educationalists on the occasion.Seminar inaugurated: Senior diplomat and former secretary (external affairs) J C Sharma inaugurated a two-day UGC-sponsored national seminar on foreign policy at the department of political science, DAV PG College, on Saturday. Professor C Mohapatra of American Study Centre, JNU, New Delhi, delivered a special lecture on foreign policy of the country on the occasion.Invitation for paper presentation: Two BHU teachers - Asha Lata Singh, assistant professor, botany department, and Prakash Kumar Singh, associate professor, geology department, have been invited to present research papers during a three-day international seminar on 'energy environment and sustainable development' to be held in Bangkok ( Thailand) from March 29 to 31.

Obesity Leads to Liver Cancer

Obesity is becoming a critical problem among teenagers in Australia, and is becoming the primary cause for severe liver damage that is usually seen in alcoholics, according to researchers.
Fatty liver disease, which, in the past, only seemed to affect older people who were obese, had a problem with drinking or have hepatitis is now posing a huge threat to obese teenagers. About 13 per cent of the 1170 seventeen-year-olds studied, have the disease.
 Dr Oyekoya Ayonrinde, who led the study, states that alcoholism also contributes to the threat and that the long-term complications cannot be ascertained at this stage as the study involved first-generation teenagers with the problem of obesity.  But, it is a fact that when fat builds up to make more than 10 per cent of the liver’s weight, it can lead to inflammation and scarring, and when cirrhosis of the liver happens, it can prove to be fatal. Teenagers face the risk of not only metabolic disorders such as Type 2 Diabetes and heart disease, but also the threat of liver failure and liver cancer as they grow older. Jacob George, a professor of hepatic medicine at the University of Sydney says, "The number of people with the disease is so huge that if even a fraction get liver cancer it is going to be huge." But obesity is a preventable risk factor in cancer, when there are others like genes that cannot be controlled, reminds Ian Olver, the chief executive of Cancer Council Australia.  


Scientists Develop a Less Painful Needle Resembling Mosquito Proboscis

Japanese researchers at Kansai University in Osaka have managed to create a less painful solution for blood sampling than the presently used smooth needles. While designing the new needles, scientists have tried to mimic the structure of a mosquito's proboscis.They were successful in creating a group of three silicon needles (1 straight needle and 2 outer jagged fabricated needles) that are activated by piezo-ceramic actuators (PZT). The PZT is responsible for the co-operative motion of the needles, which imitates a mosquito's motion. This silicon needle is electrochemically etched, thus making the 3D sharp tip with a finely smooth surface which aids easy insertion. The shank is machined by a deep reactive ion etching (DRIE). Scientists confirmed the effectiveness of these needles.
This report is published in 'New Scientist'.


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