Archive for July, 2008

Many of us have had a wart or two at some time or another. Warts are very common and although they may be a nuisance, they are unlikely to cause serious problems. They are benign growths caused by a virus in the outer skin layer involving the skin anywhere, but are most likely on the fingers, hands, arms and the neck region. Warts are not cancerous. They can be contagious from person to person and from one area to another on the same person. They are commonly seen in children and young adults between the ages of 1 and 30, but may occur at any age. By adulthood, 90% of all people have antibodies to the virus, indicating a history of at least one wart infection.

It is often seen that some people are prone to developing warts while others are not; this is due to an underlying susceptibility that plays a significant role in whether someone develops warts or not.

SIGNS & SYMPTOMS — A wart is a small, raised bump on the skin with the following characteristics:
· Warts begin very small (1mm to 3mm) and grow larger.
· Warts have a rough surface and clearly defined borders.
· They are usually the same colour as the skin, but sometimes darker.
· Warts often appear in clusters around a “mother wart.”
· Warts are usually painless and don’t itch. They may be painful if they are located on the sole of the foot or on any area where there is repeated pressure.

CAUSES — Invasion of the outer skin layer (epidermis) by the human papilloma virus (HPV). The virus stimulates some cells to grow more rapidly than normal.

HOW TO PREVENT–To keep warts from spreading to other parts, don’t scratch them. Avoid nail biting and pulling off the skin around the nails, as a tiny cut or scratch makes the skin in the area more susceptible to developing warts.

POSSIBLE COMPLICATIONS –
· Spread to other body parts.
· Secondary infection of a wart.

MEDICATION—In modern medicine, the doctor may prescribe chemicals, such as mild salicylic acid, to destroy warts. Some other procedures followed include cryotherapy (freezing cells to destroy them) and electrosurgery (which uses heat to destroy cells). Cryotherapy is an out-patient procedure that doesn’t require anaesthesia or cause bleeding. Freezing stings or hurts slightly during application, and pain may increase a bit after thawing. 3 to 5 weekly treatments are usually necessary to destroy the wart. Electrosurgery procedures can usually be completed in one office visit, but healing takes longer, and secondary bacterial infections and scarring are more common. Laser treatment is becoming commoner in treating warts.

From the HOMOEOPATHIC point of view, a predisposition to develop warts is passed down the family line and is often activated in an individual after numerous vaccinations. Homoeopathy is well-known for the treatment of warts without any invasive procedure, getting rid of the warts gently and fairly rapidly with almost no recurrence. Treatment for warts along Homoeopathic lines would include a detailed case taking, with selection of a constitutional remedy for the affected individual. A course of such a remedy, in different potencies, over a period of time, works deeply to remove constitutional tendencies and reduce familial susceptibilities. Along with the constitutional remedy, the Homoeopathic physician may choose to give remedies which directly act on the warts. These may be oral medicines as well as local applications on the warts for faster removal; as the body starts to reject the warts, the warts tend to crumble off from underlying healthy skin. However, it should be remembered that unless this is followed by constitutional treatment to remove the predisposition, warts are likely to recur.

Bad breath, medically called ‘halitosis’, is an embarrassing problem that affects a significant percent of our population and indirectly bothers close non-sufferers too. Our sense of smell has the ability to adjust to odour, hence most sufferers are often not aware of their own bad breath.

Bad breath can result from poor oral health care habits or can also be a sign of health problems elsewhere. Our lifestyle and what we eat can modify it either way. However, the only odour that comes from the stomach is when we burp. Garlic, onions and spicy foods, when eaten and absorbed into the body, can release odour through the lungs when we breathe. Such food odours are transitory and should not be mistaken for bad breath.

Research shows that most bad breath originates from the mouth. If we don’t brush our teeth regularly and correctly, food particles tend to remain lodged in the tiny spaces between our teeth. This increases the chance of bacterial growth between the teeth, around the gums and on the tongue. This can cause bad breath. Smoking and chewing of tobacco and gutka can also cause bad breath. Disease of the gums due to build up of plaque on the teeth, ill-fitting dentures, dental decay, fungal infections of the mouth, dry mouth due to various causes, mouth breathing, chronic infections of the sinuses, throat or tonsils, post-nasal drip, chronic acid reflux, diabetes, liver or kidney problems and even some medicines can all lead to bad breath.

To prevent or reduce bad breath which is primarily oral, it is advisable to follow some general measures:

  • Brush your teeth regularly at least twice a day and ideally even after meals. It is important to brush teeth in the correct manner. Replace your toothbrush every 2-3 months and earlier if it gets worn out.
  • Visit your dentist twice a year for early detection of problems and cleaning that may be required.
  • Quit smoking and chewing tobacco or gutka.
  • Drink at least 2 litres of water a day to keep the mouth moist and flush out toxins from your system.
  • Cinnamon has bacteria fighting properties, in this way it helps to fight bad breath.
  • Anything that makes you salivate will help to keep away bad breath.

Maintaining oral hygiene is a must even if you choose to take treatment for bad breath. Homoeopathic treatment will involve a detailed assessment which should ascertain the probable cause of the problem. If the cause is connected to deeper health issues rather than just oral hygiene, the Homoeopath will take a detailed case history, inquiring into physical, emotional and mental aspects of the patient’s complete personality along with family history and past medical history. This is important to enable the Homoeopath to choose a constitutional remedy for the patient which will work to improve the body’s own immunity and defence mechanisms. Apart from constitutional treatment, the Homoeopath may also target the relevant cause with remedies which have an affinity for the local problem, in this way shortening the time for cure.

Alcoholism is not just bodily dependence on alcohol but also a mental dependence. It results in chronic disease and disruption of interpersonal, family and work relationships. Over a period of time, alcoholism affects the brain, central nervous system, liver and heart. Alcoholism may develop at any age, and occurs 4 times more often in men than women.

Factors which lead to the development of alcoholism may include a genetic predisposition, emotional factors like depression, dependency, anger, etc., crisis situations like bereavement, unemployment, family influences such as alcoholic or divorced parents, social and cultural pressures to drink and possibly body chemistry disturbances.

SIGNS & SYMPTOMS
Early stages:
· Low tolerance for anxiety.
· Need for alcohol at the beginning of the day, or at times of stress.
· Insomnia; nightmares.
· Habitual Monday-morning hangovers, and frequent absences from work.
· Preoccupation with obtaining alcohol and hiding the drinking habit from family and friends.
· Guilt or irritability when others suggest drinking is excessive.

Late stages:
· Frequent blackouts; memory loss.
· Delirium tremens (tremors, hallucinations, confusion, sweating, rapid heartbeat). These occur most often with alcohol withdrawal.
· Liver disease (jaundice, internal bleeding, bloating).
· Neurological impairment (numbness and tingling in hands and feet, declining sexual interest and potency, confusion, coma).
· Congestive heart failure (shortness of breath, swelling of feet).

POSSIBLE COMPLICATIONS
· Chronic liver disease.
· Gastric erosion with bleeding; stomach inflammation.
· Neuritis (inflammation of the nerves), tremors, seizures and brain impairment.
· Inflammation of the pancreas.
· Inflammation of the heart.
· Mental and physical damage to the foetus if a woman drinks during pregnancy.
· Family members of alcoholics may develop psychological symptoms requiring treatment and support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous.

PREVENTION AND TREATMENT
It is important to provide children with a loving stable family environment. Alcohol, if used, should be used in moderation to provide healthy role models. It has often been seen that parents or relatives give a young child a taste of alcohol from their own glasses. This should not be done as children can wrongly get encouraged into drinking alcohol at a very early age. Besides the danger of developing a habit, alcohol at a young age puts a strain on their livers and can cause liver damage.

The first and most difficult step of treatment is to admit that the problem exists. Psychotherapy and counselling would also be important along with medical treatment. Having a normal well balanced diet is essential, vitamin supplements such as thiamine and folic acid may often be necessary. Thiamine is present in cereal grains, rice bran, outer layer of rice, dry beans, peas, soya beans, peanuts, nuts, liver, heart, kidney, egg yolk, milk, green leafy vegetables. Folic acid is present in good amounts in broccoli, chick peas, peas, brown rice, bananas and oranges.

HOMOEOPATHY – Homoeopathy treats alcoholism at depth like it does other illnesses. Persistence with treatment is essential. A Homoeopathic physician will take into account the alcoholic individual’s life situation, and prescribe based on the patient’s individual stresses and weaknesses, thereby offering a support system along with treatment to reduce the body’s craving for alcohol, and deal with the adverse effects of alcohol on the body. In this way, Homoeopathy is a safe, gentle and effective means of getting an individual out of alcohol’s trap.