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Saturday, 25 June 2011

In Modern Medicine, New Isn’t Always Improved

IT is an American impulse to covet the new and improved — whether it’s a faster computer, a smarter cellphone or a more fuel-efficient car. And in medicine, too, new drugs, devices and procedures have advanced patient care.But the promise of innovation can also prove a trap, a situation now playing out with dire consequences for possibly tens of thousands of people who received artificial hips intended to let them remain active.

The implants, known as metal-on-metal hips, were regarded by device makers and surgeons as a major advance over previous designs that used both metal and plastic. Now federal regulators and medical researchers are scrambling to determine how many implant recipients have been injured by the devices, which can shed dangerous metallic debris through wear.
In a highly unusual move, the Food and Drug Administration last month ordered manufacturers of all metal hips to undertake emergency studies of patients. And lawmakers and others are now calling for a tightening of how the F.D.A. scrutinizes new implants — both before and after they are sold.
A review of the medical world’s embrace of the metal-on-metal hips over the past decade — including interviews with doctors, industry consultants, regulators, medical experts and patients — shows how innovation’s lure led almost everyone to seize on a product promoted as a breakthrough without convincing evidence that it was better or even as good as existing options.
“As a non-American, I don’t completely understand it, but there is a phenomenon in the U.S., the latest and the greatest,” said Dr. Henrik Malchau, who practiced as an orthopedic surgeon in Sweden before going to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. “There was a patient demand to get these implants on the misconception that the latest was the best.”
For many manufacturers, the constant churning of new products can be a business necessity, a way to gain an edge on competitors while maintaining or even raising prices. But in recent years, a host of supposed innovations have imploded not long after introduction.
Several heavily promoted artificial spinal disks, claimed by their makers to be major innovations, proved no better than previous ones. After the blockbuster diabetes drug Avandia was linked to heart attacks, a federal study concluded that older drugs were safer and worked better for most patients. And a new heart device component from Medtronic started fracturing after it was implanted in more than 200,000 patients; at least 12 people died in connection with that product.
Some experts, like Dr. Malchau, said they used a special type of metal-on-metal implant known as a resurfacing device in specific patients — mainly taller, middle-age men — because data showed that they worked in that small group. But as with many innovations, metal hips were marketed to all comers. For example, about 65 percent of the implants went to women and older patients, according to an estimate by a consulting firm, Exponent Inc. As it turned out, those two groups appear most prone to failures involving the devices.
“The vast majority of the ‘innovations’ on which we have spent money with respect to orthopedics over the past two decades have not resulted in improved patient outcomes,” said Dr. Kevin J. Bozic, an orthopedic surgeon and professor at the University of California, San Francisco, who has written about artificial joints’ impact on health care costs.
Last year, DePuy, the orthopedics division of Johnson & Johnson, recalled one of its all-metal hips, the ASR, which was failing at a high rate. Another manufacturer, Zimmer Holdings, also briefly halted sales of one of its metal models, the Durom.  DePuy, Zimmer and other companies and doctors have said that most patients who received metal hips have done well.
Experts like Dr. Bozic suggest that big gambles on innovation are justified in dealing with diseases, like some cancers, where current treatments are ineffective. But they say that calculus should shift sharply when existing treatments are highly effective, and that doctors need to use better yardsticks before embracing new technologies in those cases or adopt changes slowly.
THE modern artificial hip, which was developed by a British surgeon, Dr. John Charnley, in the 1960s, uses a relatively simple design. A metal “ball” made of cobalt and chromium replaces the top of the thigh bone, while a “cup,” typically made of plastic, serves as an artificial hip socket. By the 1990s, the devices were considered highly effective, with studies then finding that implants still worked a decade after surgery in 95 percent of patients.
By 1996, Jonathan Black, an industry consultant and professor emeritus of bioengineering at Clemson University, warned in a medical journal article that the metal-on-metal design posed significant risks because little was known about the biological havoc that metallic debris might cause. He also argued that given the high success rate of existing designs, it would be statistically impossible to run enough studies to prove the new implants’ supposed superiority.At the time, Mr. Black estimates, the all-metal implants accounted for only a tiny fraction of some 250,000 hips implanted annually in the United States. By 2008, they were used in one out of every three hip procedures.
What happened? In essence, the old technology was repackaged as new and cutting-edge, and warnings like Mr. Black’s were ignored and considered no longer relevant. This new generation of devices was manufactured differently and reflected better designs, advocates argued.
An orthopedic surgeon in Los Gatos, Calif., Dr. Edward Littlejohn, was one of the hundreds of physicians nationwide who started implanting the all-metal devices soon after they were marketed. Dr. Littlejohn said he had long used implants made by DePuy, and believed the new all-metal devices were safe because they had passed F.D.A. muster. “I was a DePuy guy,” he explained.
Companies and surgeons began promoting the new implants as the next big step in orthopedics, one that would let patients, particularly middle-age ones, do strenuous physical activities because their mechanics were more natural. And patients, intrigued by ads featuring celebrity athletes, also wanted such devices.
“I was a skier and a hiker,” said Kathleen Herlihy-Paoli, 55, a graphic designer in Missoula, Mont., who had both of her arthritic hips replaced two years ago with all-metal devices. “My doctors said these would last longer and enable more activity.”
For physicians, new products like the all-metal hips have several attractions, experts say. Along with the potential to improve care, new technology gives the doctor offering it a way to market his or her practice as different from that of a competitor.
“It has not been fun,” he said.
Things started out great, he said. But about a year and some 40 implants later, patients started complaining of pain. One woman developed a condition that Dr. Littlejohn had rarely seen before: a buildup of gray-colored fluid around her hip. It was about then, Dr. Littlejohn said, that he realized he had leapt too soon.
Dr. Lawrence Dorr, a surgeon in Los Angeles who helped popularize all-metal hips, said they also appealed to doctors for a practical reason: they reduced the risk that a new hip would dislocate soon after implantation.
By using a metal cup, which is thinner than a plastic one, a surgeon could implant a bigger ball component, Dr. Dorr explained, which was less likely to dislocate than a smaller one. Recent research, however, suggests that such oversized components may be a part of the reason the devices shed metallic debris.

“I thought this could be a home run,” Dr. Dorr recalled. “Instead, it turned out to be a strikeout.”
There were skeptics along the way, like Nadim J. Hallab, an implants expert at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. Dr. Hallab worked with surgeons who were disappointed with the earlier generation of all-metal devices, and they remained skeptical about the new ones. “I never thought this was going to fly,” he says.
UNDER F.D.A. rules, most all-metal hips don’t have to undergo clinical trials before sale. Instead, they are tested in labs on machines that simulate millions of steps to study the forces exerted by years of motion. Such wear is inevitable in an artificial hip; for example, tests showed that the type of plastic used in some plastic-metal hips shed particles that led to bone loss in some patients.
But it was an about-face by Dr. Dorr in Los Angeles, that first sounded a public alarm. In 2007, he alerted fellow surgeons after some of his patients developed pain and had to have replacement operations. As the number of affected patients nationwide mounted, it emerged that the devices shared a trait with other failed innovations: most of them had been little tested.
Similar tests of the all-metal implants did not point to problems, testing experts say. But in retrospect, they added, they think they understand why: the simulations were apparently based on idealized conditions, not on what would happen in the real world of doctors and patients. For example, all-metal devices proved less forgiving than metal-and-plastic ones to small variations in how they were implanted, with components sometimes striking together and generating debris.
Harry McKellop, a device testing expert at Los Angeles Orthopaedic Hospital, said it was his understanding that “most of the early metal-on-metal testing was not done under adverse conditions.”
While some metal implants have performed well in certain patients, the devices, as a group, are twice as likely as metal-and-plastic ones to require early replacement, according to data from Australia’s orthopedic registry, one of the most comprehensive databases on implants.
Most troublingly, damage from debris generated by metal implants is proving far more insidious than that caused by plastic particles. In some patients, it has caused crippling tissue and muscle damage, and has produced neurological problems in others.
The innovation cycle involving the hips has now entered a new phase: cleanup. Regulators, researchers and companies must assess the damage caused, and determine how to undo it.
ACCORDING to one estimate, about 500,000 patients in the United States may have gotten an all-metal hip in the past decade, raising the likelihood that tens of thousands will have painful early-replacement procedures. Even if the share of seriously injured patients stays low, as researchers hope, thousands are likely to be affected, experts estimate.
In early May, orthopedic specialists and company officials discussed how best to perform the special studies the F.D.A. is now requiring. Pitfalls may abound, specialists warned. For example, only certain labs are authorized to measure metallic ions in the blood, and diagnostic equipment, unless specifically calibrated, will not detect tissue damage.
There may also be some confusion about the advice coming from the F.D.A. and other authorities. Officials urge patients to contact their doctors if they experience pain, but internal damage may be occurring in some patients who are free of symptoms.
Ms. Herlihy-Paoli, the graphic designer, said her brother-in-law, a lawyer, urged her last year to get a blood test because he had a client with a failed metal hip. She said she thought it unnecessary because she felt fine, but when she did take the test it showed high levels of metallic ions.
Feeling panicked, she sought out Dr. Malchau in Boston, who discovered that debris had already started a reaction around one implant that was producing aberrant tissue growth. “I had a tumor growing there,” Ms. Herlihy-Paoli said. “If I had left the hip in, it would have started damaging the bone and muscle.”
Needless to say, surgeons, testing experts, implant company officials and regulators are all eager to find a way to prevent such problems with other new devices. The proposals include better pre-market testing, consistent product tracking and phased-in introductions of new products.
But many experts also want to ensure that too much second-guessing does not slow real innovation. Ultimately, the resolution of that quandary, some experts believe, may lie as much with the attitudes of doctors and patients as it does with regulation.
Meanwhile, some participants in this long arc of events have also come full circle. For example, Mr. Black, the consultant who warned about use of all-metal hips, was hired not long ago by DePuy to advise it in connection with the scores of patient lawsuits pending against it. Mr. Black said he anticipates that lawsuits against it and other makers of all-metal hips may emerge as the largest product liability cases of this decade.
Metal-on-metal implants, in which the cup is also made of a metal alloy, had been tried during those early decades, but were largely abandoned after tests found that patients had metal particles in their blood or organs, raising concerns about long-term health risks like cancer.
Courtesy:NewYork Times

IIM-A asks AYUSH to follow Chinese medicine example

In a set of recommendations that Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad (IIM-A) has given the ministry of health and family welfare's department of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH) recently, the latter has been suggested to learn from the Chinese examples. IIM-A recommended AYUSH introduce farming of medicinal herbs and commence mass scientific validation of medicines like the Chinese did.
After IIM-A was recently entrusted with the task of drawing the recommendations by AYUSH, the institute charted the recommendations by hosting a three-tier set of programmes which were attended by top level managers, professors, doctors, researchers and field workers. With suggestions from the participants, the recommendations were put together by the members of faculty of IIM-A including Anil Gupta, Mukul Dixit, Sanjay Verma, Vijaya Sherry Chand and Asha Kaul.
Gupta said, "At the moment 90% of medicinal herbs for manufacturing AYUSH medicines are procured form the forest. It is time the country introduced farming of these medicinal plants like China is doing. With the current practice of depending on the forest with no conservation policies, the future is bleak."
The recommendations also included formation of a 'Medical Plant Corporation of India' and introduce incentives for cultivators of the medicinal plants from the farmers and a buy back policy. Talking about the loopholes in the current scenario Gupta said, "The farmers who cultivate the herbal plants themselves are facing problems while transporting their harvest as they are confused with forest products. This problem should be corrected."
Other suggestions that pointed towards china also included the need of laying keen focus on scientific validation of AYUSH medicines. The recommendation indicated that the Chinese herbal medicines have gained international popularity because of scientific validation and AYUSH also take the process seriously. Gupta said, "At the rate at which the validation of these medicines is going on in this country, which is very slow, it will take more than a century to complete." 


Lifestyle Changes Might Alter Breast Cancer Rates

Lifestyle changes such as losing weight, drinking less alcohol and getting more exercise could lead to a substantial reduction in breast cancer cases across an entire population, according to a new model that estimates the impact of these modifiable risk factors.
Although such models are often used to estimate breast cancer risk, they are usually based on things that women can't change, such as a family history of breast cancer. Up to now, there have been few models based on ways women could reduce their risk through changes in their lifestyle.
U.S. National Cancer Institute researchers created the model using data from an Italian study that included more than 5,000 women. The model included three modifiable risk factors (alcohol consumption, physical activity and body mass index) and five risk factors that are difficult or impossible to modify (family history, education, job activity, reproductive characteristics, and biopsy history).
Benchmarks for some lifestyle factors included getting at least 2 hours of exercise a week (for women 30-39) and having a body mass index (BMI) under 25 (in women 50 and older).
The study appears online June 24 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, where the author of an accompanying editorial applauded the research.
The findings provide "extremely important information relevant to counseling women on how much risk reduction they can expect by changing behaviors, and also highlights the basic public health concept that small changes in individual risk can translate into a meaningful reduction in disease in a large population," Dr. Kathy J. Helzlsouer, of Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, wrote in a journal news release.
The authors pointed out that the predicted changes in lifestyle to achieve these goals -- such as former and current drinkers becoming non-drinkers -- might be overly optimistic.
But, the findings may help in designing programs meant to encourage women to make lifestyle changes, according to the researchers. For example, a 1.6 percent absolute risk reduction in a general population of one million women amounts to 16,000 fewer cases of cancer.
The model predicted that improvements in modifiable risk factors would result in a 1.6 percent reduction in the average 20-year absolute risk in a general population of women aged 65; a 3.2 percent reduction among women with a positive family history of breast cancer; and a 4.1 percent reduction among women with the most non-modifiable risk factors.
More information
The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about breast cancer risk.

World's Lowest Quality Standards in Dairy Are in China : Experts

China's dairy industry has the world's lowest quality standards due to large companies dominating its production and purchasing raw milk at rock-bottom prices, industry experts said."Milk processors and farmers all know that the problems of low protein content and high bacteria counts in milk are easy to solve with money but they have instead reduced investment because of the low profit margins," the China Daily quoted former vice-chairman of the Guangdong Provincial Dairy Association, Wang Dingmian, as saying. 

Wang said the protein content of the milk would rise within a week if cows were fed adequately. He added that dairy farmers have instead reduced the amount of feed they give their animals as the big dairy companies pay a low price for purchasing the milk. The high bacteria count in milk is also caused by insufficient capital investment, he said. 
China had relaxed its national milk quality standards in 2010, increasing the maximum limit of bacteria acceptable in raw milk from 500,000 per milliliter to two million per milliliter and lowering the minimum requirement for protein content from 2.95 grams per 100 grams of milk to 2.80 grams. 
Food safety experts claimed the dairy giants helped ensure the looser standards as some of their branch plants could not meet higher standards 
"The revised standards for raw milk, normal-temperatured milk and pasteurized milk were drafted by two Chinese dairy giants, Mengniu Dairy Co Ltd and Yili Industrial Group," Dingmian added. 
He suggested introduction of flexible policy under which farmers could get high prices and thus be motivated to produce a better quality of raw milk.



Popular Painkillers Pose Health Risk for Elderly Patients

A new study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society has warned that some of the most popular painkillers and sleeping pills can pose a serious health risk to elderly patients.
The study was conducted by researchers from the University of East Anglia and the University of Kent who said that more than 80 popular brands of painkillers, sleeping pills and hay fever tablets can prove to be dangerous to people’s health.According to the study, when commonly used allergy tablets such as Piriton and Zantac are taken in tandem with the anti-depressant drug, Seroxat, the risk of the elderly patient dying in the next two years increased by more than three times.
Similar results were found for bladder medications, heart drugs and asthma treatments. Commenting on the study, University of Kent’s Ian Maidment said, “What is really the problem is the additive effect. It is the cumulative burden which is very damaging. It is not just the obvious medicines, it is things like heart drugs and antihistamines, and lots of doctors and nurses and pharmacists may not be aware that these medicines have this problem.” 



Leech Treatment Popular in Bihar

In Bihar, many patients who have not been cured by using common medicinal treatments, are now opting for leech therapy.
Leeches were first used in medicine as early as 200 B.C. and were common until the mid-1800s when newer therapies took their place.
Describing the therapy as safe,skin specialist Muzafer Islam said the treatment is again getting popular not just in India but also in the world.
"Leech therapy is getting popular in developed countries like America and England as well. Along with the blood, the leeches suck the pus as well. Also the kinds of leeches we use have these special kinds of enzymes that quickly clot the blood sucked out. Post treatment, we don't have to use any special medicine. Also, the leeches suck in all the dead cells and tissues as well. In this treatment, patients get instant relief without much pain," said Islam.

A growing number of patients have been showing interest, as they find the treatment effective, hygienic and clean.

"I have been suffering from Lima for the past 15 years, got it checked by many doctors, tried many cures like allopathic and homeopathic. Eventually, I read about this therapy in the papers and came here. First a little blood is drawn out through a syringe from the affected area, and then a leech is placed on it. I have been getting this treatment done for the past two months, and it is giving a lot of relief" said Ramkishor Thakur, a patient




Friday, 24 June 2011

Gayatri Mantra to open “Heal the World Interfaith Picnic of Nevada”

Various faiths are coming together to have a picnic in Nevada’s capital Carson City (USA).
Christians (various denominations), Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, Baha’is, and others, besides sharing food, music, games, prayers, a “Peace Cake”, etc., will also try to find similarities between their diverse traditions at second annual “Heal the World Interfaith Picnic of Nevada” on July 31, according to Adina Richman Karst, Coordinator.Hindu statesman Rajan Zed will open the picnic with Gayatri Mantra, considered the most sacred mantra of Hinduism, and prayers from Rig-VedaUpanishads, andBhagavad-Gita; ancient Hindu scriptures.In addition, the participants, who include clergy as well as congregations, will also help the less fortunate by donating food items to area food bank Friends in Service Helping. Clergy and spiritual leaders will address the picnic goers on helping others, “treating others as we want to be treated”, etc. Picnic’s goal is to donate 1,000 food items. A raffle for gift baskets will support charities Carson City Animal Shelter, the Wildland Fuels Reduction Project, and Heifer International.
Picnic will be held at Mills Park from one to five pm and Karst expects about 500 participants and is urging each one to bring at least one food item for donation.
Participating organizations include First United Methodist Church of Carson City, St. Teresa of Avila Catholic Church, Unity of the Sierra, Universal Society of Hinduism, St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, Temple Bat Yam, Northern Nevada Muslim Community, Reno Buddhist Center, St. Gall Catholic Church, St. Paul’s Lutheran Family, Baha’i Faith of Carson City, Center for Spiritual Living in Carson City, Padma Rigdzin Ling Buddhist Center, etc.

Research shows Ayurvedic Medicated Ghrita and Taila (Oil) have a two-yr expiry.

The research study for the stability of ayurvedic preparations involving medicated 'ghee' (grhita) and oil (taila), conducted at the department of Rasa Shastra, BHU, has fixed the shelf-life of such preparations as a maximum of two years.
As per Anand Chaudhary, associate professor in the department and regional coordinator,Pharmacovigilance Centre for North Region, the rule 161 (B) of Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1945 has made it mandatory to print the manufacture and expiry date of all ayurvedic, siddha and unani ( ASU) drugs from April 1, 2010 onwards. "Under no circumstances, consumers should buy these drugs after their expiry date, especially preparations of medicated ghee and oil that are manufactured two years ago," he added.
It may be mentioned here that only 'asavarishta' (herbal liquid preparation) and 'bhasma' (metallic-herbo formulations) have no expiry date and can be used even after two years of manufacturing. 

A number of ayurvedic preparations involving medicated ghee and oil, including Mahanarayana Taila with analgesic properties are used in Panchakarma procedure and most of them have a shelf-life of 18 to 24 months. "The buyers need to be aware and informed about the efficacy of the drugs with proper attention paid to the date of their manufacture and expiry," added Chaudhary.


Obese Dieters' Brain May Thwart Their Weight-loss Efforts

People are motivated to lose weight, especially those who are obese or overweight. But despite their best efforts they may be unsuccessful in their attempt. Researchers now have found the reason for the failure of their weight loss plan.
"When obese persons reduce their food intake too drastically, their bodies appear to resist their weight loss efforts. They may have to work harder and go slower in order to outsmart their brain chemistry," said Gregory G. Freund, a professor in the U of I College of Medicine and a member of U of I's Division of Nutritional Sciences. He particularly cautions against beginning a diet with a fast or cleansing day, which appears to trigger significant alterations in the immune system that work against weight loss. "Take smaller steps to start your weight loss and keep it going," he said.
In the study, the scientist compared the effects of a short-term fast on two groups of mice. For 12 weeks, one group consumed a low-fat diet (10 percent fat); the other group was fed a high-fat (60 percent fat) and had become obese. The mice were then fasted for 24 hours. In that time, the leaner mice lost 18 percent of their body weight compared to 5 percent for the obese mice.
Freund said that there is an immune component to weight loss that has not been recognized. "Our data show that fasting induces an anti-inflammatory effect on a lean animal's neuroimmune system, and that effect is inhibited by a high-fat diet. Some of the brain-based chemical changes that occur in a lean animal simply don't occur in an obese animal," he said.



Ayurvedic Medicated ghee effective in treatment of skin disorders

A new research study in the department of rasa shastra, faculty of ayurveda at Banaras Hindu University (BHU), has found anti-bacterial and anti-psoriatic properties in 'panchatikta grhita' (a specifically designed ayurvedic formulation of medicated ghee mixed with powdered drugs of five different ingredients).
The study has also validated the shelf life of specifically designed ayurvedic formulations of medicated ghee and oil to be from 18 to 24 months.
Panchatikta grhita is a widely used medicine for the treatment of various kinds of 'kushtha' (18 types of skin disorders) as described in classical ayurvedic texts.
The study had focused on the efficacy of the formulation for 'ekakushtha', a kind of skin disorder similar to psoriasis as referred in modern medicine. The research study showed anti-psoriatic and anti-bacterial properties of panchtikta grhita, provided the preparation is used within two years of manufacturing, said Dr Anand Chaudhary, an associate professor and supervisor of the research study, while talking to TNN on Friday.
The inter-disciplinary research study was conducted by Vikas Kumar and C S Onten of department of pharmaceutics, IT-BHU, under the supervision of Dr Chaudhary of rasa shastra, department of ayurveda, BHU. He said that panchatikta grhita consists of five ingredients that are used in powdered form along with medicated ghee. He added that the study has evaluated and compared the anti-bacterial and anti-psoriatic effects of these preparations in-vitro and in animals using female 'albino mice'. These preparations come under 'sneha kalpana', a pharmaceutical procedure to prepare oleaginous medicine from substances like kalka (bolus of the drugs) and dravya (liquid material). They are prepared in specific proportions by subjecting them to uniform heating pattern and duration to fulfil certain pharmaceutical parameters as per the requirement of the therapeutics, added Dr Chaudhary. He also said that the research studies have shown that the preparation reduces itching, pain and swelling associated with psoriasis, a skin disorder with unknown etiology with autoimmune and non-infective nature.
In addition, the research study of stability for determining the shelf life of medicated ghee (panchatikta grhita) has confirmed the period to be from 18 to 24 months under various conditions and constituents of the medicated ghee as per different ayurvedic classics.
A number of organoleptic tests including testing of colour, odour, taste, appearance, touch and clarity apart from physico-chemical tests have validated the stability for a maximum of two years.

yoga guru Iyengar hits out at Baba Ramdev-style of yoga

 Internationally renowned yoga guru B K S Iyengar has criticised Swami Ramdev's style of teaching  Yoga to students, reports TNN.  
The 93-year-old guru lashed out at those who sell programmes like kapalbhati,saying such preceptors were corrupting Patanjali's yoga.
Iyengar,who has been teaching yoga on the world stage for 75 years, said overpublicizing specific aspects like kapalbhati was wrong,and a short-cut best avoided.
He made the statement without naming Ramdev,but the inference among the Indians present there was obvious because the Baba has built much of his following by spreading kapalbhati through TV.

Iyengar,considered the oldest yoga teacher internationally,visited Guangzhou during his five-day China tour,and dozens of yoga practitioners prostrated themselves before him.
There are over ten million yoga practitioners in China,and most follow it as an exercise regime.
Ramdev,by ending his fast on the ninth day,had drawn the ire of several yoga teachers who compared his dipping health graph with Haridwar saint-activist Swami Nigamanand,who bravely held out for 68 days before being force-fed by the authorities.
The yogacharya also made the Indian government a target of his angst.
This was within moments of expressing his joy over being presented with an album of commemorative stamps issued in his honour by the Beijing Post Office.
What an honour, he exclaimed, while saying his own country had not brought out a stamp on him
"I will cherish this all my life. I am one among you. I love you all", he said, moved by the album of stamps, one of which carried his picture.


Thursday, 23 June 2011

Hindu statesman and spiritual master discuss bhakti-yoga in Nevada

Hindu statesman Rajan Zed and spiritual master Swami Rishi Avadhootanandaji met in Nevada (USA) on June 22 and discussed bhakti-yoga (yoga of devotion) and its importance in our lives.

Swami Rishi Avadhootanandaji, founder of Rishi Center for World Consciousness and based in Pune (India), said that the path of complete surrender as outlined by bhakti-yoga would always lead us towards liberation. Ancient Hindu scripture Bhagavad-Gita (Song of the Lord) beautifully expounded it, he added.

Rajan Zed, President of Universal Society of Hinduism headquartered in Nevada, pointed out that the path of bhakti-yoga, very inclusive and available to all, formed a close bond between human and divine. It was the way of love and many mystics of other religions had also treaded on this path by and large. 

Two leaders also discussed role of youth in religion and how to attract young persons to spirituality in this consumerist society full of distractions. Topics of harmonious co-existence, nature of reality, realization of Self, etc., were also explored.

Besides bhakti-yoga, Avadootanandaji has expertise in kundalini, mudra and kriya yoga; pranayama; various forms of meditation, etc. Zed is a Hindu statesman who has taken up interfaith, religion, environment, Roma and other causes all over the world.

Hinduism is oldest and third largest religion of the world with about a billion adherents and moksh (liberation) as its goal

Mission Steering Group approves Ayush proposal for modification of Ayush hospitals and dispensaries

The Mission Steering Group (MSG) of the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) has approved a proposal of Ayush department for partial modification of the Centrally Sponsored Scheme for development of Ayush hospitals and dispensaries for mainstreaming of Ayush under NRHM.
Union minister of health and family welfare Ghulam Nabi Azad on Tuesday chaired the seventh meeting of the MSG, the highest decision making body of NRHM that takes decisions on the policies and programmes under the Mission. Vilasrao Deshmukh, minister of rural development and panchayati raj, Kapil Sibal, minister of human resource development and telecom, Sayeeda Hameed, member, planning commission, secretaries of various departments, health secretaries of state governments and eminent public health professionals attended the meeting.
The meeting approved for Mizoram, Manipur and Tripura and 3 Hilly States (Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Jammu & Kashmir) a one-time assistance towards non-recurring expenditure up to Rs.45 crore (i.e. Rs.7.5 crore/state) and Rs.9 crore (i.e Rs.1.50 crore/state) towards recurring expenditure for setting up of Ayush hospitals shared by the Centre and the State on a 85:15 basis. For the remaining 5 NE States (Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Sikkim and Meghalaya), a one-time assistance upto Rs.12.70 crore (i.e Rs.2.54 crore/state) and recurring assistance ofRs.2.35 crore (i.e Rs.0.47 crore/state) for setting up of 10 bedded integrated Ayush hospital on 85:15 centre: state share basis was approved. It was further decided that the funds allocated under Centrally Sponsored Scheme for Development of Ayush hospitals and dispensaries will be utilized for financing the said additional components.
The MSG also approved conducting of District Level Household Survey (DLHS) - 4 in those States where Annual Health Survey (AHS) is presently not being done. IIPS, Mumbai is designated as the Nodal Agency. IIPS will also do the required pooling of data from AHS and DLHS-4 household survey to arrive at National Estimates and prepare the National Report. Further, the Facility Survey will also be conducted in all states.
The MSG while reviewing action taken on its earlier decisions noted that though it had sanctioned Rs.100 crore to Jammu and Kashmir for setting up 200-bedded maternity hospitals at Jammu and Srinagar respectively, there has not been much progress. Therefore, MSG decided that the Government of India will now get these two hospitals constructed, for which a provision of Rs.124 crore will be kept during this financial year.

Pine Bark Extract Improves Heart Function

Pycnogenol, an antioxidant plant extract from pine tree naturally strengths the heart, increases the blood volume, reveals study. As evidenced by this study, Pycnogenol, in combination with CoQ10, offers a potent contribution to heart health management.
Each year there are an estimated 400,000 newly diagnosed cases of heart failure in the U.S., according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Heart failure is a common, chronic, long-term condition that develops as a result of hypertension, when with heart chamber walls wear out and heart muscle weaken. The disease can be costly, disabling and potentially deadly and is characterized by the heart's inability to pump or eject sufficient amounts of blood to the organs. 
"Many conditions that lead to heart failure cannot be reversed, but heart failure can often be medically managed with good results," said Dr. Gianni Belcaro, a lead researcher of the study. "This study shows that a combination of Pycnogenol and CoQ10 offers an effective, natural solution as adjunct for heart health management." 

The 12-week single-blinded, placebo-controlled observational study was conducted at Chieti-Pescara University in Italy and investigated the effectiveness of Pycnogenol and Kaneka CoQ10 (PycnoQ10) supplementation in 53 patients. Patients were between the ages of 54 and 68 and had mild to moderate hypertension, with stable congestive heart failure. Patients recruited had been diagnosed with heart failure with anejection fraction lower than 40 percent of their original capacity. The ejection fraction, the pumped blood volume to total left heart ventricle volume, was measured by high-resolution ultrasound. Additional inclusion criteria were a stable level of heart failure within the past three months and stable New York Heart Association (NYHA) class II (mild symptoms) or III (moderate symptoms) heart failure classification. NYHA functional classification system relates symptoms to everyday activities and the patient's quality of life. All patients were taking prescribed heart medication and most patients used three or more drugs for heart failure treatment.


Indian Spice Fenugreek may Boost Male Libido

A new study conducted by the Centre for Integrative Clinical and Molecular Medicine in Australia has found that an herb that is commonly used in food items across Asia could provide a boost to the male libido.
According to the study, taking a fenugreek-based preparation can increase libido in men by as much as 25 percent. Fenugreek is widely used in preparations of curries across Asia with India being the world’s largest producer of the herb.
The researchers divided the participants, aged between 25 to 52 years, into two groups. The first received two doses of the extract every day for six weeks while the second group was placed on placebo.
The researchers found that the LIBIDO of the men from the first group increased by 25 percent while remaining at the same level in the second group. At the end of six weeks, the researchers found that sexual arousal increased from 16.1 to 20.6 in the first group compared to just 16.6 in the second group. 



Extra Potatoes Beat Weight Loss Plans: US Study

 Extra Potatoes Beat Weight Loss Plans: US Study
Eating an extra serving of potato chips or fries each day and similar slight changes in eating habits can add a lot to a person's weight over the years, US researchers said on Wednesday.
Three studies that spanned 20 years and more than 120,000 people showed that the notion of eating less and exercising more for good health may be too simplistic.
However, overall food choice -- picking fruits and whole grains  instead of starches and meats -- appears to have the strongest link to how much a person gains, or doesn't, in the long term, said the research led by the Harvard School of Public Health.
The average adult gains about one pound (0.45 kilos) per year. To find out what drives weight gain, researchers examined data from three large studies of nurses and health professionals, said the report in the New England Journal of Medicine.
The subjects' lifestyle changes and weight gain were tracked every four years for two decades. Participants gained an average of 3.35 pounds (1.5 kilos) over each four-year period, for a 16.8 pound (7.6 kilo) gain over 20 years.
The food linked to the greatest amount of weight gain were French fries, one extra daily serving of which could add 3.35 pounds every four years. An extra handful of potato chips each day could add 1.69 pounds in the same time period.
Similar results were seen among people who consumed extra SUGARY DRINKS (one pound) and meats (0.95 pounds for unprocessed, 0.92 pounds for processed)


Study Finds Why We can Only Hold About 4 Things in Our Minds at a Time

People can only hold about four things in our minds at once, medical research has shown. But researchers could not completely understand how the brain reaches this limit.
To understand the neural basis of this capacity limitation, Earl Miller, the Picower Professor of Neuroscience in MIT's Picower Institute for learning and Memory, and Timothy Buschman, a post-doctoral researcher in his lab, tested two monkeys (monkeys also have the same working capacity as human as humans) in a simple task.
As the monkeys performed task, Buschman recorded simultaneously from neurons in two brain areas related to encoding visual perceptions (the parietal cortex) and holding them in mind (the prefrontal cortex). As expected, the more squares in the array, the worse the performance.
"But surprisingly, we found that monkeys, and by extension humans, do not have a general capacity in the brain," said Miller.
"Rather, they have two independent, smaller capacities in the right and left halves of the visual space. It was as if two separate brains - the two cerebral hemispheres - were looking at different halves of visual space," added Miller.
This study resolves two long-standing debates in the field. Does our working memory function like slots, and after our four slots are filled with objects we cannot take in any more; or does it function like a pool that can accept more than four objects, but as the pool fills the information about each object gets thinner? And is the capacity limit a failure of perception, or of memory?



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