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The present weather and environmental conditions have triggered a spate of illness in Mumbai and Navi Mumbai. The most prevalent is viral fevers and flu, accompanied with coughs, colds, sore throats and even tummy upsets. The present virus/es doing the rounds seem to be quite strong and are affecting a wide number of our population; however, those with strong immunities are able to throw off the illness in a few days. There have been several cases of the specific Swine Flu but we must remember that it is now no longer the dreaded illness it was supposed to be a couple of years ago – it is now as good or bad as any other seasonal flu. The other illnesses going around are malaria and dengue.

Today, I wish to talk about Dengue. It is another dreaded illness, caused by viruses that are transmitted by mosquitoes. The danger of dengue lies in its ability to reduce the platelet count in the body drastically, thereby triggering bleeding, internal or external which may lead to death. Conventional medicine has no treatment/cure for the dengue itself – the treatment is only supportive and aims to support the system and relieve symptoms (not cure) until the dengue runs its course. In this article, I will be describing a method which removes this danger of reducing platelets in a safe, gentle and cost-effective manner – almost a type of home remedy which has also been scientifically proven but is not used in most cases, probably due to ignorance of this method by the medical profession.

First let us talk about how Dengue presents in our system. Dengue is an illness that occurs in tropical and sub-tropical climates. Symptoms are headache, fever, weakness, severe joint and muscle pains, swelling of glands and rash. The triad of fever, rash and headache (and other pains) are characteristic of dengue. The acute phase of the illness – fever and pains – lasts for 1-2 weeks. In most cases, Dengue follows a benign, non-dangerous course. It tends to be more severe in people who already have weakened immune systems. Dengue haemorrhagic fever is a more severe type of the illness where there may be petechiae (small red or purple splotches of bleeding under the skin), bleeding from the nose and gums, black stools (indicative of an internal bleed), or easy bruising – all possible signs of haemorrhage. This can become life-threatening and can result in Dengue Shock Syndrome.

The virus is contracted from the bite of a striped Aedes aegypti mosquito that has previously bitten an infected person. Direct transmission of the virus cannot occur – it needs the person-mosquito-another person route. The mosquito flourishes during the rainy season but can breed in water-filled flower pots, plastic bags and cans all the year round. After being bitten by an infected mosquito, there is an incubation period that ranges from 3-15 days before the signs and symptoms are manifest. It starts with chills, headache, pain behind the eyes and upon moving the eyes and low backache. Aching in the legs and joints occurs in the initial hours. The temperature rises high rapidly (upto even 104 or 105 degrees F) with relatively low pulse and low BP. The eyes redden. A pale pink rash or flush comes over the face and disappears. The lymph node glands in the armpits and groin may swell. The fever and other signs last 2-4 days followed by a rapid drop in temperature and profuse sweating. Then there may be a day with no fever and a feeling of well-being. A second rise in temperature follows along with the characteristic rash that spreads from the extremities throughout the body except the face. Palms and soles may be bright red and swollen.

Typical dengue is fatal in less than 1% of cases and complications usually arise in those with weakened immune systems or in those who have taken aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. The acute phase lasts 1-2 weeks and recovery takes several weeks and is accompanied by weakness.

Dengue haemorrhagic fever is accompanied with respiratory and abdominal symptoms like sore throat, cough, tummy pains, nausea, vomiting. Shock can occur after some days due to the haemorrhagic complications with sudden collapse. This form of dengue has significant mortality.

As mentioned earlier, conventional medicine treatment is purely symptomatic, aiming to relieve the symptoms while the course of the dengue lasts. Rest is important as is the need to keep the body hydrated. Pain relievers are often given to ease the headache and joint pains. Patients often take over-the-counter medications by themselves but it is important not to randomly take aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs as these can worsen the situation in dengue and cause bleeding complications. For patients whose platelet counts drop alarmingly, transfusions of platelets are given.

General Precautions:
Empty stagnant water from containers, old tyres, trash cans and flower pots. This helps to eradicate the mosquitoes that carry the virus. Avoid getting bitten by mosquitoes by wearing long pants and tops/shirts with long sleeves. The Aedes aegypti mosquito is a daytime biter with peak biting time around sunrise and sunset.

Homoeopathic Treatment:
The remedy Eupatorium Perfoliatum is useful as a preventive. Please consult a homoeopath for proper potency and dosage instructions as they may vary for different patients with different susceptibilities. For those in whom dengue symptoms manifest, treatment with homoeopathic remedies is possible and very effective. Recovery is quick and the general weakness is lessened. There are remedies which even treat the haemorrhagic form of dengue.

Effective Home Remedy: PAPAYA LEAF JUICE
Now I come to the important home remedy which I want to spread awareness about. Papaya leaves play an important role in treatment and prevention of haemorrhagic complications. Studies conducted in different countries like Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Austria have all found it effective. They have found that papaya leaves have substances responsible for the release and/or production of platelets. The leaves are high in complex vitamins that help bone marrow to rapidly produce new platelets.

Normal platelets have a life span of about 5-10 days in our body. The body replenishes them as required. During the active phase of the virus in the body, the virus reduces the body’s ability to manufacture platelets. Hence the platelet count starts to drop. Usual normal platelet count varies from 1,50,000/cmm – 4,50,000/cmm. A platelet count below 1,00,000/cmm is alarming and requires attention. If the count drops below 30,000/cmm, it prevents clots from forming and spontaneous bleeding can start which is dangerous and requires hospitalization.

Leaves from a fruit bearing tree are to be used. The stem and thick veins should be removed. Wash with clean water and crush/grind. Squeeze by hand to extract the juice which has to be consumed fresh. Some sources recommend 10 ml twice a day for adults and 5 ml twice a day for children between 5 and 12 years. Crushing two leaves in a tablespoon of water and drinking the strained juice for two consecutive days has also been found effective. The platelet count rises within a few hours of taking the papaya leaf juice. It is better to take the papaya leaf juice early in the illness. When given early, patients recover quickly, thus preventing the need for hospitalization. In the final stages, when multiple organ failure has occurred, benefit is minimal.

Benefits of papaya leaf juice:

  • Improves platelet and white blood cell counts.
  • Normalises the clotting profile.
  • Improves liver function and repairs the damage done to the liver due to the dengue virus.

So stay healthy and if dengue does occur, treat it safely, gently and surely!

References:

  1. www.medicinenet.com
  2. http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2011/8/31/nation/9402609&sec=nation
  3. apjtb.com/zz/aug/18.pdf
  4. http://www.sundayobserver.lk/2010/07/25/fea02.asp
  5. http://www.allnaturalhealththerapy.com/food-for-healing/papaya-leaves-extract-cures-dengue-hemorrhagic-fever.php

More and more people, even those in their 30s, are being tested for cholesterol levels and are prescribed some form of cholesterol-lowering drugs. Doctors are happy to prescribe these expensive medications to their patients but (knowingly or unknowingly) no mention is made of their dangerous side-effects, esp., when one considers that these drugs are meant to be taken long-term, if not for a lifetime.

One important fact is missed/ignored – statistics can easily be used to manipulate studies and figures to show misleading results. A report might say that a medicine slashes the risk of, say, heart attacks, by 50%. Such a statement fails to tell you the whole truth. If only 2 people in a group of 100, actually fit the risk profile, then a drug that prevents heart attack in 1 of those 2 people, is considered to have a 50% success rate in the whole group of 100 people, but then, 98 of the group were not at risk anyway. Hence, in this scenario, a drug that cuts the rate by 50% prevents just 1 heart attack when taken by all 100 people. Researchers prefer to use the term “Numbers Needed to Treat” (NNT). It shows how many people must take a drug for one person to benefit. The ideal NNT is 1, where everyone has improved with treatment and no-one has with control. The higher the NNT, the less effective is the treatment.

Hence, for people taking statins, it is necessary that they weigh the possible side effects against the possibility (not certainly) of any benefit.

As published in Business Week,

Lipitor and other cholesterol-lowering statins, when used in people who have had a heart attack or who have signs of heart disease — have an NNT of 16-23. In clinical trials with 5 years of treatment, 1 in 16-23 people is spared a coronary event. To prevent an actual death, the NNT is 48.

Lipitor and other cholesterol-lowering statins, when used in patients without heart disease, but who have risk factors like high blood pressure — have an NNT of 70-250, which means that 1 person in 70-250 is spared a heart attack or a stroke.

Lipitor and other cholesterol-lowering statins, when used in patients without heart disease, but who have risk factors like high blood pressure — have an NNT of 500+ to prevent death or serious medical conditions.

Zetia, which lowers cholesterol — has an NNT of 1000+ which means that, of over 1000 patients who take Zetia, heart disease is prevented in only 1.

Astonishing, isn’t it!!! For all those on cholesterol-lowering medication, have your doctors given you these figures or have you only received assurances? With such a poor benefit record, is it worth having the possibility of deadly side effects?

Some of the side-effects known to occur with cholesterol-lowering drugs are:

  • Common side-effects include headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea/constipation, rash and muscle pain.
  • Memory loss and amnesia, along with less severe cases of forgetfulness, confusion, difficulty concentrating, or other cognitive symptoms that are simply chalked up to the gradual erosion of the body and mind by the aging process, when they are in fact attributable to cholesterol-lowering statin drugs.
  • Depression.
  • Polyneuropathy.
  • Muscle pain, muscle cramps, unusual tiredness.
  • Rhabdomyolysis — a fatal condition involving the destruction of muscle tissue that was responsible for the recall of the lethal statin Baycol.
  • Congestive heart failure.
  • Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) and carnitine deficiency.
  • Inflammation and rupture of tendons and ligaments.
  • Interference with the production of endorphins.
  • Liver and kidney dysfunction.

Here are some links giving details of these side-effects:

http://www.cholesterol-and-health.com/Statin-Drugs-Side-Effects.html

http://www.medindia.net/news/Statins-can-also-Exert-Detrimental-Effects-on-Brain-Cells-60245-1.htm

http://www.spacedoc.net/statins_brain_cell_damage.html

http://www.brainbequick.com/brain-fog.html

http://www.spacedoc.net/stopping_statins.html

http://www.medicinenet.com/statins/page2.htm#toce

References:
http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/08_04/b4068052095204.htm

http://www.medicine.ox.ac.uk/bandolier/booth/glossary/NNT.html

Several readers inquired about the possibilities of homeopathic use for the problems of progressing age. This article is an attempt to answer those queries.

Aging is inevitable for all of us who will be lucky enough to get there. Aging with grace, dignity and good health is one of the blessings of life. Good health comprises physical and mental well-being. Homeopathy is a system of medicine that can help to maintain good health for as long as we live.

However much we want to be free of health problems, our aging years bring with them some sort of ailment or disability. There could be physical problems like pain and stiffness of the joints, weakening brittle bones, vertigo, trembling, debility and gait disturbances, diminishing bladder control, sleeplessness, recurrent respiratory infections, complications of chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes, etc. Aging could affect our mental sphere bringing on depression, decline in our cognitive functions, memory, etc.

Often I come across patients who are overwhelmed by the name of a diagnosis given to them. This brings on anxiety and often depression at the thought of a ‘big and unknown’ illness. My advice to them would be not to get scared of the ‘disease term’ used; ask your doctor to explain what the condition is all about and what the common terminology is for it. Patients have every right to ask their doctors for details. Many patients have come to me, worried that they have “vertigo”. They say that they had suffered from dizziness, in Gujarati called ‘chakkar’, but the doctor said they had vertigo. And this gets them worried. It is a big relief for them to know that vertigo is the medical term for dizziness. This is just a small example, this happens commonly with many other ailments.

Many a time, we see senior citizens being diagnosed with a chronic disease condition and then put on long-term medication that brings on its own share of side-effects, adding to the ill-health and suffering that the patient has to put up with. Homoeopathy is ideal for such situations – the remedies, in their correct potency and dosage are safe from side-effects (because they are not chemical drugs but potentized electromagnetic energy forms of the remedy substance), they are easy to take and are cheaper than conventional medicine treatments. Homoeopathic remedies, for all chronic conditions, are chosen with due emphasis on the individual patient and not the disease name. When remedies are chosen in this manner, they work to stimulate the immune system of the patient, making all the body systems run optimally. The body’s own healing mechanism is given a boost and the process of cure is begun. It is important to realize that ailments that have existed for many years will not go away in a few months. Patience is essential. However, some kind of improvement should certainly be visible in about 3 – 4 months. In cases where cure is not possible, homoeopathic remedies serve to give relief and keep the patient as comfortable as possible. The progress of chronic degenerative illnesses can be slowed down by homoeopathy, if the patient is beyond the reach of cure.

Our senior citizens often suffer from acute health problems like coughs, colds, digestive disturbances, etc., that are triggered by environmental conditions, due to a weakened immunity. Strong chemical drugs may help to contain the infection but bring on diarrhoea and weakness that stays with them a long time. Homoeopathic remedies are effective even in acute conditions and work rapidly to eliminate the problem without the addition of side-effects. In such acute conditions, the homoeopath does not need to know the life history of the patient; details about the acute problem itself – details about the origin, duration and progress are enough to aid the homoeopath to select a suitable remedy. A well-selected remedy can deal with an acute problem very rapidly, within minutes to hours. The patient is left free of the problem and with good vitality.

To conclude, a senior citizen, with the help of homoeopathy, has very good chances of staying relatively healthy, avoiding unnecessary hospitalization and enjoying the retirement years in the best way possible.

After several queries, I have decided to write about the twenty most effective remedies that are regularly used for infants and children in homoeopathic practice. These are not ‘constitutional’ remedies (remedies for eradicating long-term problems or inherited tendencies) but those that are commonly used for acute problems and which every household with young children should stock.

This article is not meant to encourage home-prescribing, but to build up awareness about the great potential that homoeopathy has to solve most problems that children encounter; safely and gently, without the use of strong chemical drugs like antibiotics.

Nowadays, we see a lot of children in our practice that come with health problems that could easily have been avoided, had homoeopathy been resorted to in the first place. Instead, anxious parents, unknowingly, often compel their doctors to prescribe strong medicines like antibiotics even for routine coughs, colds and fevers. This way, the body’s own immunity does not adequately learn how to fight infections and hence the next rounds of infection come sooner and sooner. This leads to a vicious circle of infections and antibiotics with the child’s immunity taking a battering. As the child’s immunity continues to suffer, the child becomes more and more disposed to developing more serious infections and conditions like ear infections, chronic otitis media, tonsillitis, bronchitis and even bronchial asthma. Chronic ailments like skin allergies and eczema also become more common. These are usually considered as new ailments and never linked to the actual immunity lowering cause.

With correct homoeopathic prescribing, all the acute coughs, colds, fevers and even the more serious conditions like ear infections, chronic otitis media, tonsillitis, bronchitis and bronchial asthma can be treated well. Homoeopathic remedies stimulate the immune system to function optimally and, over time, the immunity improves and children’s own bodies are able to fight off most infections without the need for any medication. For such immunity-improving treatment, detailed constitutional therapy is essential – this requires a detailed case taking and proper case management. However, the list given below contains remedies often used for acute problems, from which, even at odd hours of the day or night, your homoeopath can choose the suitable remedy based on the symptoms present. Such a kit kept at home can be handy and valuable.

1. ACONITE
This is a remedy useful for the congestive stage of inflammation before localization takes place. Ailments arise from exposure to dry cold air, drafts of cold air especially when overheated. Ailments come on suddenly with intense symptoms. High fevers where the face is red or red and pale alternately. There is great thirst for large quantities of cold water, lot of restlessness and tossing about. Teething children may develop convulsions. Cough is dry, hoarse and croupy, more on expiration.

2. AETHUSA CYNAPIUM
Suited to children during dentition who develop complaints in hot summer weather, children who cannot tolerate milk. Milk is vomited in large curds as soon as it is taken, vomiting leads to intense weakness and drowsiness. The child sleeps and then wakes up hungry and crying, drinks milks again and the cycle repeats. The child’s face bears and expression of pain and anxiety.

3. ANTIMONIUM TART
Children with cough where there seems to be a large collection of mucus but nothing comes up. Child is clingy and wants to be carried but won’t let anyone else touch him. Vomiting that is followed by drowsiness and great weakness. Tongue is coated pasty, thick and white. Great inclination to sleep with nearly all complaints. Useful for children at birth who are pale, breathless and gasping; prevents asphyxia neonatorum. Most ailments seem to come on in damp weather or from living in damp rooms.

4. ARNICA MONTANA
Very useful for the falls and bumps that children get as a routine part of growing up. Prevents serious repercussions of head injuries and is known to absorb bleeding that has occurred into the brain after a head injury. Also useful for the bad effects of injuries received a long time ago. Useful also for mechanical blunt injuries that result in stupor from concussion with involuntary passage of stools and urine. Injuries bring on a sore, lame, bruised feeling, as if beaten. Whole body is oversensitive. Everything on which he lies feels very hard, keeps moving from place to place in search of a soft spot.
* Do not use Arnica ointment on any open wounds.

5. ARSENICUM ALBUM
For the start of colds with intense sneezing, watery nasal discharge and thirst for sips of cold water frequently. Fevers with restlessness where children want to be carried rapidly. Also useful for tummy upsets that result from cold food or drink or from eating bad meat. Nausea at the smell or sight of food, diarrhoea after eating or drinking, watery stools with great weakness.

6. BELLADONNA
Suited to children with great liability to catch colds; sensitive to drafts of air especially when uncovering the head or after a hair cut, tonsillitis after exposure to cold winds. Sudden onset of ailments with redness of face or eyes with most complaints. Tongue has a strawberry red appearance. Pulse is full and bounding, congestive headaches worse from slight noise, light, jar, movement; better by tight bandaging or pressure. Useful for convulsions during teething, with fever where the head is hot and the feet are cold. For children who get delirious with fever.

7. CALENDULA
One of the best antiseptic remedies in homoeopathy. Very useful for open wounds to promote healthy healing of tissue and prevent excessive pus formation. Useful as oral medicine as well as application of Calendula ointment on the wounds. Also for use post-surgically to promote rapid healing.

8. CHAMOMILLA
Useful for children – newborn and during the teething period. Ailments from cold, anger, dentition. Child is exceedingly irritable and fretful, quiet only when being carried. Impatient and demanding, rejecting the thing when given. Whining and moaning constantly. Intense pains (eg., ear pains) with great oversensitivity, one cheek red and hot, the other pale and cold. Great aversion to wind especially about the ears. Diarrhoea of teething infants where the stools are green, watery, like chopped eggs and spinach, hot and very offensive.

9. CINA
For complaints of children who are very irritable and cross, want to be carried but carrying gives no relief. They do not want to be touched and cannot bear anyone coming close. Constantly digging and boring at the nose. Worm complaints with startling and screaming during sleep and grinding of teeth.

10. COLOCYNTH
Very useful for abdominal colic. Agonising pains making the child bend double. Great restlessness, twisting and turning about for relief. Pains are better by hard pressure. Irritable and impatient, throwing things out of his hands.

11. FERRUM PHOS
Very useful for inflammatory conditions and fevers especially the first stages. Easy flushing of the face, less intense symptoms than of Aconite and Belladonna. Pulse is soft and flowing. Often useful in fevers of children when there are no other symptoms to guide to a suitable remedy.

12. IPECACUANHA
Also known as Ipecac, it is a very useful remedy for coughs of children that are dry, spasmodic and asthmatic. Breathlessness with wheezing. Cough that often results in gagging, retching and vomiting of white frothy phlegm. Most complaints are accompanied by nausea with profuse saliva and vomiting; vomiting without relief. Tongue is clean or slightly coated.

13. JALAPA
For the colic and diarrhoea of children where the children are good all day long but scream and are very restless and troublesome at night.

14. KALI MUR
A useful remedy to cut short colds right at the beginning, also useful for sub-acute inflammatory states. Stuffy colds with ear involvement. Greyish-white slimy coating of the tongue.

15. PODOPHYLLUM
Diarrhoea of children during teething and in hot weather, worse from eating and worse while being bathed or washed. Stools are profuse, painless, of varying colour, often yellow, watery and very offensive.

16. PULSATILLA
Commonly used for colds with yellow discharges, stuffed up noses where the symptoms are changing often. Most symptoms are better in open air and worse indoors. Absence of thirst with most complaints and indigestion from eating rich food. Tendency to styes and agglutination of eyes with yellow sticky discharges on waking.

17. RHEUM
Suitable for children, especially during dentition. Sour smell of the whole body, child smells sour even after washing. Children cry and toss about all night. Impatient, desires many things and cries, dislikes even favourite playthings. Constant sweat of scalp keeping the hair always wet.

18. RHUS TOX
For coughs and colds after getting wet that result in muscle pains and flu-like symptoms. Corners of the mouth are ulcerated with fever blisters around the mouth. Very useful for sprains and strains where symptoms are worse on initial movement and better by walking or continued motion.

19. SAMBUCUS NIGRA
For dry colds of infants where the nose is dry and completely blocked, preventing breathing and nursing. The child awakens suddenly, nearly suffocated and gasps for breath. Difficulty in breathing out. Suffocative coughs with crying children.

20. SENNA
Very useful in intestinal colics where the child seems full of wind. Clinically used most often for third-month-colic of infants.

Besides these twenty, many other remedies may be suitable to a given case, based on symptoms that individual children present. These are just some guidelines and I reiterate once more that it is best to consult your homoeopath for proper remedy selection and dosage, this will give safe, gentle and speedy results.

Back problems have become extremely common and are no longer restricted to the older age group. Teenagers and young people in their 20s are also often affected. Most people will experience back pain at some time or other during their life. With good posture and by maintaining strong and healthy back muscles, it is possible to avoid back trouble but very few of us actually put our back muscles to their proper use – that of supporting the spine.

With present day job situations where people spend long periods of time sitting at desks, the risk is increased. Even people who are physically active get at risk if they do not learn correct and safe lifting techniques. When heavy and awkward objects are lifted and carried with a bent back and straight legs, there is great strain on the vertebrae and the cartilage discs between them.

Back pain can arise in any of the structures in or around the spine. Also, the pain arising from inflammation in one area can be transmitted along a nerve to a totally different area; this can be misleading about the actual location from where the pain arises.

85% of all back pain is due to injury, inflammation or arthritis in the various structures that make up the spine. A further 10% are due to true ‘slipped disc’ or prolapsed intervertebral disc which is due to damage to the cartilaginous disc between the vertebrae. The centre of the disc is pushed backwards against the spinal cord itself or against the nerves emerging from it, thus causing pain. This is usually caused by a bad lifting technique or a sudden awkward movement. A small proportion of back pain is caused by serious disease elsewhere in the body. Rheumatoid arthritis and cancer spreading from other sites can erode vertebral bone and cause severe, boring pain in the back area. Occasionally, back pain may be due to gynaecological or kidney problems.

Visualising the normal curvature of the spine can be an important diagnostic tool. When you stand sideways in front of a mirror, you should be able to see the four basic curves of the spine. In the neck region, the spine should curve inwards, towards the throat – a similar curve should be seen in the small of the back. Between the shoulder blades and the back of the pelvis, the spine should curve outwards, away from the body. In certain conditions, this curvature gets altered. For eg., in a prolapsed disc with accompanying muscle spasm in the small of the back, there is loss of the forward curvature in this area and the spine looks flat and rigid. In osteoporosis or ankylosing spondylitis, there is marked forward curvature of the spine between the shoulder blades with hunching of the back and a stoop. Shortening and forward bending of the spine is also seen in osteoporosis.

X-Rays are rarely useful, as soft-tissue injuries are not shown up on X-Rays. MRIs are more useful than X-Rays for diagnosing back-related problems.

Sudden acute back pain brought on by lifting a heavy object or by twisting awkwardly is generally due to trauma to the structures in or around the spine itself. Muscles may be torn or strained, a disc may have prolapsed and may be pressing on nerves, or the nerve may be stretched over a bony outgrowth which is the result of wear-and-tear arthritis. Weakness of the bones due to osteoporosis or metastatic cancer can also cause problems due to sudden movement.

Sharp stabbing pain brought on by movement is probably due to one of the nerves being entrapped – this pain serves as a reminder to the patient that he should be resting. (Very often, instead of taking the time off for healing, patients indiscriminately take pain killers and continue to do their daily tasks, thereby worsening the damage). The pain should settle down within 3 days or so, since most trivial muscle strains and spasms settle on their own by this time. If prolonged, consulting a doctor is necessary. Pain on coughing or sneezing also suggests movement of a freshly prolapsed disc pressing on a nerve – it again needs rest. A slipped disc may create weakness or numbness in the legs, this can have potentially serious consequences for mobility and muscle strength in the legs in future. A severe slipped disc in the lowest part of the spine can bring on difficulty in controlling the bladder or bowels.

Most back pain is long-standing. Muscles heal fairly rapidly but ligaments and inflamed joints take several weeks or months to settle down since they have relatively poor blood supply. Inflammation and arthritis of the joints tends to be chronic and emphasis should also be laid on preventing further deterioration.

Previous back injury like bruised or fractured vertebrae can later on lead to the development of arthritis with resulting stiffness and pain.

Fever, weight loss and fatigue can represent problems affecting other areas of the body as well as the spine. Rheumatoid arthritis could produce all these symptoms, as well as pain, stiffness and swelling in other joints.

If the backache is much worse during a woman’s menstrual period, it could be due to a retroverted uterus. An internal examination by the gynaecologist could confirm that. Prolapse of the uterus can also cause backache. This happens when the muscles of the pelvic floor that support the uterus become weak. It may occur in overweight women or in women who have not toned up their muscles after delivery of children. Associated symptoms are a constant discharge, alteration of bladder and bowel function with possible constipation and even stress incontinence (leakage of urine on coughing, sneezing or straining). There will be a feeling of bearing down esp. when standing or exercising with a dragging feeling in the abdomen. Backache and general tiredness with fatigue is a usual accompaniment. Certain other gynaecological disorders can also produce back pain.

Kidney infections and kidney stones are capable of producing pain in the back because of the location being so close to the spine.

Generalised weight loss with a chronic boring pain in the back could indicate a serious disorder within the body – chronic infections, tuberculosis, blood disorders like leukemia and multiple myeloma and cancer spreading from elsewhere. A full investigation is essential.

In rare cases, a rupturing aortic aneurysm can cause intense back pain. This pain will be felt in the back as well as the abdomen. This is a medical emergency and urgent referral to a hospital is necessary.

TREATMENT:

Injuries are best treated with initial application of ice, followed by heat later; bed rest is necessary depending on the extent of injury. Homoeopathic remedies are very useful in helping the hurt tissue heal faster. The patient’s symptoms of pain will guide the physician to the correct remedy.

Exercise is very important for patients with osteoporosis. Weight-bearing exercise and walking are particularly beneficial. Homoeopathic treatment will include detailed constitutional treatment along with homoeopathic mineral supplements which have the advantage of better absorption within the body.

Rest and homoeopathy do wonders for people with slipped discs. Later on, homoeopathy and exercise are essential to strengthen the back muscles to prevent recurrence.

Even long-standing back pain can find considerable relief through good holistic therapy, physiotherapy, exercise and correct posture.

The other medical conditions that do cause back pain can also be well treated with homoeopathic remedies. The focus is on curing the underlying condition and not jut giving pain relief by suppression of the pain. Constitutional homoeopathic treatment is necessary – this involves detailed case taking followed by good case management.

“Swine Flu” has become a much dreaded illness in Mumbai, Pune and neighbouring areas ever since the first swine flu death occurred in India a couple of weeks ago. Widespread fear and a state of panic are setting in, esp. due to an initial fanning of the flames by the media and lack of awareness about this illness among the general public.

In this article, we shall try and understand the basics about what exactly swine flu is, how it gets transmitted, risks and dangers involved, how one can protect oneself from contracting this illness and medical prevention and treatment options available.

So far, the media has only highlighted treatment options available in Allopathy/conventional medicine. After days of their drug Tamiflu being raved about and made to appear as a saviour drug and the only available perceived treatment option, recent reports are abuzz with the side-effects of Tamiflu. The pharmaceutical companies are in a race to make a vaccine against swine flu available at the earliest and reports suggest that such a vaccine is going to be introduced this autumn in western countries, to combat the expected second wave of swine flu. It remains to be seen whether this new vaccine will, in any way, be more effective than the earlier Influenza vaccines given every year. Newer variants of influenza vaccines are made available with clockwork regularity as the influenza virus mutates rapidly and makes the previous year’s vaccine ineffective.

To combat the panic all around us, let us also get some perspective on this Swine Flu epidemic. Every year, about 36000 – 40000 people die in the US from regular seasonal flu. As compared to seasonal flu, this Swine Flu virus has not proved to be more virulent or contagious. After the initial panic in the US and Mexico, where this Swine Flu apparently originated, researchers have agreed that the Swine Flu virus was not as dangerous as they initially thought.

Yes, over a thousand people have been infected now in India, but that is still about 0.001% of the Indian population; far from being anywhere near pandemic proportions. Of all those that have been infected, a vast majority recovered without any complications. There will also be a lot more numbers of people infected with the virus than what the media reports – this is because not all of them will fall sick and not all of those who do fall sick will get tested. Many will not fall sick because their body’s immunity will tackle the virus without a problem. Out of those who do fall ill, a majority will not undergo ‘testing’ but will recover by themselves or with the help of local treatment by family doctors.

So now, keeping this in mind, let us now talk about the Swine Flu virus and the ailment it can cause.

The virus causing Swine Flu is the H1N1 virus and spreads from person to person in the same way that a regular flu virus spreads – through coughing or sneezing by people with influenza. Occasionally people may also get infected by touching something that has been contaminated with flu viruses by patients suffering from the flu, eg., door knobs, working surfaces, etc., and then touching their mouth or nose.

People infected with the virus can then spread it and infect others anywhere between 1 day before falling sick themselves to 5-7 days after falling sick.

The illness this virus causes ranges from mild (in majority of cases) to severe (in a few). The symptoms produced are a running nose, cough, sore throat, fever, body-ache, headache, chilliness and exhaustion. Several people affected by it have also suffered from loose motions and vomiting. While most people suffering from it have recovered without requiring medical treatment, there have been a few cases where respiratory complications have occurred resulting in death of the individual. Children younger than 5 years, people older than 65, pregnant women and anyone with pre-existing chronic medical conditions (like heart disease, kidney disease, asthma, diabetes) are at greater risk of developing complications- just as in seasonal flu. From the Homoeopathic point of view, anyone who has recently had a course of antibiotics are also more at risk due to the lowering of the immune response that antibiotic use creates.

Some basic preventive measures can be very useful:

  • The most important thing is to not let STRESS and ANXIETY take over. These negative fearful emotions can lower the body’s immunity making you more vulnerable to viruses and bacteria.
  • Cover your mouth and nose while coughing and sneezing. Dispose used tissues and wash handkerchiefs frequently.
  • Spread awareness about maintaining hygiene.
  • Do not share napkins, towels and handkerchiefs.
  • Wash hands and face frequently with soap and water, esp. after returning home from outdoors. Gargle daily with warm salt water.
  • Avoid touching your mouth and nose unnecessarily.
  • Avoid very close contact with sick people.
  • Drinking tea with ginger and mint is beneficial to boost one’s immunity against viruses.
  • Have a good intake of citrus fruits.
  • Intake of garlic is also a good anti-viral and anti-bacterial measure.

TREATMENT OPTIONS

At this point in time people are aware that ‘Tamiflu’ is a drug used to treat Swine Flu and people are trying to procure it by any means and are dosing themselves with it in the hope of it preventing the occurrence of Swine Flu. This is incorrect use of the drug and will result in the virus mutating more rapidly and making Tamiflu ineffective faster. Also, as Tamiflu is available only by prescription, there is further panic among the general population as fears abound about the drug going out of stock.

People should also be aware that Tamiflu has its limitations and side effects, some of which are nausea and vomiting. Other adverse reactions include sleeplessness, vertigo, abdominal pain, cough, bronchitis and fatigue. Recent reports also talk of Tamiflu being unsuitable for use in children since dehydration, nightmares and psychiatric disturbances may occur. Some children under 17 displayed bizarre psychiatric behaviour shortly after taking the drug. These side effects included panic attacks, delusions, delirium, convulsions, depression, loss of consciousness, and in some cases, suicide.

Homoeopathy has proven its worth in previous influenza epidemics, perhaps one of the most recent and serious ones has been the Influenza epidemic of 1918. It was documented during that epidemic that while allopathically treated patients had a mortality rate of 28.2%, those treated homoeopathically had a mortality rate of 1.05%.

In the last couple of days, we Homoeopaths have received plenty of queries about the contents of a text message doing the rounds, giving the name of a Homoeopathic remedy for Swine Flu prevention. Whilst the remedy Influenzinum 200 is appropriate, the dosage recommended in certain text messages is not.

Influenzinum is a deep acting remedy and a few doses should be more than enough to be preventive. Taking many more doses could be counter-productive. One dose of Influenzinum 200 (3-4 pills) a day for 3 days should be sufficient. Any further doses should only be taken under the advice and supervision of a qualified Homoeopathic physician.

Apart from Influenzinum, there are some other remedies that will be useful in the prevention and treatment of Swine Flu. Some of these are Oscillococcinum, Eupatorium Perfoliatum, Arsenicum Album, Ipecacuanha, Baptisia, Gelsemium, Bryonia, etc. Homoeopathy requires strict individualisation, however, in situations like an epidemic where an illness is prevalent at a certain period in time, the individual’s personal symptoms often fade to the background and a common group of symptoms presents in most people suffering from that illness. Based on these symptoms, homoeopaths can then determine the ‘genus epidemicus’ or the remedy most likely to be of use at that time for that illness.

In general, anyone taking homoeopathic preventive remedies will be protected from contracting the illness, but in rare cases, someone could develop the flu. In such cases, it is advised to contact your homoeopath at the earliest, so that treatment can be initiated as soon as possible. Treatment can cut short the course and severity of the illness and the homoeopath does not need to wait for a full blown infection to occur.

It is better to reiterate once again that Homoeopathy as a medical science requires strict individualisation, hence the patient’s symptoms will determine which remedy will really be suitable for cure. It is strongly recommended that patients not self-medicate but consult a qualified homoeopath for a prescription.

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.

We live in an age where life has become too fast for most of us. Stress is a common part of our daily lives and people are turning to meditation, yoga, aromatherapy and other natural forms of relaxation and treatment. The use of flower remedies is a similar form of treatment which works deeply and without side effects. This form of therapy was introduced by Dr. Edward Bach, a qualified Allopathic doctor, who later studied and practiced Homoeopathy. Dr. Bach spent six long years roaming about in jungles and ravines, collecting information about various plants and their flowers and then produced 38 medicines, each of which is directed at a particular characteristic or emotional state. These medicines are called Bach Flower Remedies.

There is an intimate relation between the physical body and mind. The mind is the mirror which reflects the physical state of the person. Hence, ailments in the different parts of the body have a cumulative effect on the mind and mood of the person. It is this change of mood – the mental state – of the patient which the Flower Remedies intend to change and rectify, thereby nullifying the cumulative result of all physical ailments. In treatment with Bach Flower Remedies, physical symptoms are usually not considered, only mental symptoms are taken into account. The suitable remedy, based on mental symptoms, is selected from the 38 remedies. When we say that treatment by Bach Flower Remedies is based on only mental symptoms, it does not mean that this treatment is confined to mental cases only. It simply means that the patient is cured both physically and mentally by the remedy which is prescribed based on mental symptoms.

Some advantages of the Bach Flower Remedies are:

  • Selection of the remedy is easy as there are only 38 medicines to choose from.
  • More than one remedy can be taken individually or in combination at the same time.
  • There are no side effects.
  • These remedies can be taken with medicines from other systems without interfering in their action.

The ultimate purpose of Bach Flower Remedies is to correct emotional imbalances so that negative traits get converted into positive strengths. After taking the medicine if there is a change in the mood of the patient, the medicine may be changed accordingly. There is no fixed rule by which it can be determined how long it would be necessary to continue giving Flower Remedies. If it is a temporary sensation, it may clear up even with one single dose of the remedy, but if it is intended to change the very temperament of the person or to remove a chronic ailment, it may require many months to do it. Deep changes can be brought about in a person with the correct remedy. To offer some examples, Bach Flower Remedies can be used for people who are unable to get rid of hatred and jealousy from their minds, unable to move on from an unpleasant past; people who are unable to break away from the influence of a dominating person in their lives; remedies can be used to treat dominating people themselves. They can treat deep fears, despair and hopelessness, etc.

Apart from the 38 Bach Flower Remedies, there is a combination remedy called Rescue Remedy which has been found to be very useful in sudden traumatic situations such as stress, emergencies, bad news, before an interview or exam, etc. It has also been found to be useful for travel sickness. This remedy helps us get back our normal balance so we can calmly deal with the situation. It helps to relax, remain focused and calm.

All these remedies are usually available at most Homoeopathic Pharmacies and the remedies can be had in liquid or globule form. It is best, however, not to self-medicate, but to take the remedies under the supervision of a practitioner.