Friday, August 31, 2007

The remarkable journey of our national flag

In the year 1931, August 31 was declared as India's national flag day. In its 76th year, let’s take a look at its evolution from being a representative of communities to that of a nation as a whole.

The first national flag of India looked like - red colour at the bottom symbolizing strength, saffron in the middle for victory and the green at the top for boldness and enthusiasm. Eight lotuses symbolized the eight provinces of British India, while the sun and the moon represented the Hindu and Muslim faiths.

Vande Mataram was inscribed in the center in devnagari. Designed by Vir Savarkar, it was hoisted in 1906.

This was followed by Annie Besant and Bal Gangadhar Tilak's flag of five red and four green stripes arranged horizontally and alternately.

The first Indian flag.
The seven stars on it stood for the saptarishi or the seven sages held sacred by the Hindus while the crescent moon and star represented the Muslims. The upper left portion carried the union jack. While this symbolized the goal of a dominion status, it was generally unacceptable.

Through Gandhi, came the first tricolor. Pingali Venkayya, an Andhra youth prepared a flag of two

Gandhi suggested the addition of a white strip to represent the remaining communities of India and the charkha to symbolize progress.

But the seven-member committee appointed by the congress looked into designing a flag that did not represent communities. This resulted in a suggestion of a plain saffron flag with a charkha in reddish brown in the extreme left-hand corner. But this was rejected by the AICC as well.

The resolution to adopt a tricolour flag in 1931, clearly states that it bore no communal significance. Saffron stood for courage and sacrifice White for truth and peace. And Green for faith and chivalry.

It also carried a charkha in blue on the white band which was later replaced by Ashoka's Dharma chakra symbolizing dynamism and constant change. It echoed the words of Sarojini Naidu - "Under this flag there is no difference between a prince and a pauper, rich and poor, man and woman. I bid every Indian to rise and salute this flag."

colours representing the two major communities.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Ayurveda Rejuvenation in India

Ayurveda in India

¤ Age-Old Science of Medicines
‘Harmony is health’, is what Ayurveda preaches. This is India’s age-old science of medicine which illumined many, like the early Greeks and Arabs who were so awed that they went ahead and borrowed from it.

According to World Health Organization, Health is not only physical well being or absence of disease, it is rather physical and metal well being. And Ayurveda deals with mental, physical and social well being of an individual; making it different from other form of medicinal therapies. Derived from the Sanskrit word, Ayurveda is divided into two words - 'Ayur' which means life and Veda - which means knowledge.

Ayurveda in India was at its glorious best in the age of rishis (Hindu ascetics) and rajas (kings). Our ancient masters and physicians knew exactly how to be hale and hearty till a ripe age, which would be nothing less than a century! Traces of the science have filtered down the centuries, and are being revived in a big way these days. But most people tend to think of Ayurveda as an alternative system of medicine, which it is not. It is a way of life.

We tend to ignore that the human body does react to nature’s ever-changing moods and that human life is but only a link in the great web of Life. Medication today has been reduced to curative or system-regulating medicines; preventive medicine has hardly made much progress except for a handful of vaccines. Ayurveda or ‘the knowledge of life’ will tell you that there’s much more to ‘medication’ than that. Ayurveda is based on sound observational concepts which have stood the test of time for thousands of years.

¤ Ayurveda - An Extension of Atharva

Ayurveda in India is an extension of the Atharva Veda one of the early Vedic compositions dealing with science, art and philosophy. Charaka’s (the grand old man of medicine) treatise is the oldest known ayurvedic text. It is a holistic science, looking at all things which make for a bouncy life, where life means the body, mind and spirit.

The starting point of Ayurveda in India is the theory of the three doshas (humours) – vata (wind), pitta (bile) and kapha (phlegm). From this evolves the concept of the doshas (controlling forces) which act on the dhatus (tissues), giving rise to the various malas (metabolic products or wastes).

The character of these are governed by what we eat, when we eat, how we live and in which environment, and our mental state, of course. and so, even a slight change in any of these can make us ‘unwell’, not necessarily diseased. As an extension, if we remain unwell for too long our tissues can lose their strength and become susceptible to diseases.
¤ Treatment Based On Herbs and Minerals

In case of an illness, Ayurveda has remedies based on herbs, minerals and other therapeutic procedures like yoga (path to self realization) and panchakarma.

The panchakarma are the five internal cleansing procedures – vamana (vomiting), virechana (purgation), vasti (enema), nasya (application of herbal preparations through the nostrils), and rakta moksha (therapeutic release of toxic blood). But the vaid (Ayurvedic doctor) will not suggest the same remedy for everyone.

Ayurveda in India recognizes each individual as genetically different from the other, of a very specific prakriti (constitution) and with a very individual way of interacting with the environment. The science also gives the framework in which we can modify our lifestyles to optimize our bodily functions, in what is described as ritucharya (seasonal behaviour) and dinacharya (daily behaviour). A healthy diet and digestion are important factors here.

Ayurveda in India has eight branches – Internal Medicine, Paediatrics and Gynaecology, Surgery, ENT (ear, nose and throat), Toxicology, Rejuvination, Study of Sexual Function and Reproduction and Psychiatry. The basic understanding of this whole systematic body of knowledge is restoring ‘life’ to the body.

Given the steady environmental changes (read slow disasters), lifestyle and stresses of the present day, the need of the hour is to eliminate the gap between modern medicine and other systems such as Ayurveda. Because, true to its name, Ayurveda is the means to vitality in a fast paced world.

¤ Ayurveda & its therapies.

This therapy is a traditional way of detoxification. The therapy dates hundred of years back. Panchkarma is a good way of cleansing and servicing your body. The therapy is specially advantageous as it helps in preventing disease which occurs due to the accumulation of doshas or toxins.

Pizhichil is a treatment which involves application of luke warm herbal oils in the body. The treatment is quite benefecial for Rheumatic diseases like Arthiritis, Parlysis, Hemiplegia, Paralysis-Agitanus, Sexual Weakness, Nervous Wakness and Nervous disorders etc. Pizhichil is one of the special massages for rejuvenating the whole body. The prescribed oil is first applied on the head. Then the whole body is smeared with this medicated oil. This requires a specific posture and bench; the person is made to lie on a droni (a wooden bed specially designed for the purpose). Then pieces of linen dipped in warm medicated oil is squeezed over on to the patient’s body while massaging the body with the hand all the time.

The massage is very slow and light without exerting much pressure. Apart from being a lavish treatment, it also protects from illnesses by building immunity for a bouncy life. and that’s not all; Pizhichil is also a panacea for rheumatic diseases, blood pressure, pain in the joints and diabetes.

In this method, the entire body is made to perspire by the application of certain medical pudding. The medical puddings are used externally in the form of blouses and are tied up in a muslin bag.

Ayurveda Rejuvenation IndiaSirodhara
In this therapy, highly medicated oil is poured as an even stream on the forehead continuously to make effect on central nervous system. Sirodhra will help you to tune up the brain and will also increase your memory. The method is a good way of preventing and curing diseases like paralysis, senile dementia and other neurological ailments.

¤ The Kerala School of Ayurveda

While Ayurveda barely managed to keep its head above water in most of India, it thrived in robust health down in Kerala. It is primarily because of two reasons:

1) Kerala boasts two monsoons in a year (May-June and August-September), and provides an ideal climate for the treatments it has preserved so well.
2) Kerala is also the land of Vagbhatta, the last and well-known students of Charaka (the grand old man of medicine), who is supposed to have taught his chosen 18 students here. The descendants of three or four of these students practice the science till today.

You will be pleasantly surprised at the unique ‘treatment’ the Kerala School offers. A heavenly oil massage called snehana is given. In fact, feudal lords in Kkkerelaare known to have indulged in it to keep themselves fighting fit. The oils are ayurvedic and work wonders for the entire body functioning.

The oils are formulated as per the body constitution, age, symptoms of ailment and the prevalent climatic condition. This is what sets apart Ayurveda from other medical sciences: in recognizing each person’s unique make up. As such there are more than 1500 formulations of medicated oils for the treatment of various ailments.

Imagine going for a weight-losing programme with just herbal oil massages and Ayurvedic medicines and no exercises or even dieting! This kind of treatment is especially effective for arthritis, spondylitis, paralysis, obesity, sinusitis, migraine, hysteria, premature aging and other psychosomatic ailments.

¤ Ayurvedic centres

Kottakkal Arya Vaidyasala at Kottakkal, Malappuram.
Kairali Ayurvedic Health Resort at Palakkad.
Surya Ayurvedics Ltd. at Kanjany, Thrissur.
Somatheeram Ayurvedic Beach Resort at Kovalam, Thiruvananthapuram.
Ideal Ayurvedic Center at Chowara Kovalam, Thiruvananthapuram.
Ayushya Ayurvedic Center at Kovalam, Thiruvananthapuram.

Yoga in India

YogaThe wavering, restless mind goes wandering on… you must draw it back, and have it focused every time on the soul."

- Lord Krishna said to Arjuna in Bhagwat gita

¤ Yogic Revelation

The whole world is talking about yoga principles these days. In the west people are increasingly casting a keen eye on relaxation and yoga meditation, essentials of the ancient Indian principles of yoga. No wonder Indians have kept the tradition alive and well; as a therapy they know that there’s nothing better than good old yoga.

The word yoga means ‘union’, though a more literal equivalent is the English ‘yoke’. In fact, the words yoga and yoke have the same Sanskrit root. The knowledge of yoga meditation comes to us originally from the Vedas

The idea then developed and branched into a whole lot of other texts and philosophies. The yoga that is most well known today is the Hatha Yoga of bodily positions called asanas. Through a perfection of the practice, one is supposed to reach a higher state of being, a state that is in union with brahmana or the Absolute (also the Hindu concept of godhead). In the ancient times our rishis (Hindu ascetics) practiced yoga to achieve self-realization, a necessary step towards spiritual progress. For them yoga was the way to liberation (moksha) from the material world. Advanced yogis (experts on yoga) even claimed to acquire extraordinary powers, such as how to vanish into thin air!

¤ Cure Without Medicine

Anyway, other religions like Buddhism and Jainism, too, absorbed the techniques of yoga. Today millions are turning to this age-old system because of its therapeutic goodness. If you have a little patience, you can cure yourself of most ills without pills. and with time, such bodily discipline also influences consciousness and concentration, silencing the wandering Cain in your mind forever.

Medical research has endorsed the benefits of yoga postures on the body. Yoga is just the remedy for ailments like a poor spine and painful joints. The stretching and compressing during these asanas, and the alteration of the body’s orientation and centre of gravity generate ‘piezoelectricity’ (electricity caused by pressure) in the body tissues.

A regular practice of yoga exercises regulates the growth, maintenance and strengthening of body tissues. In fact, the whole body metabolism is stimulated and the body’s healing powers improved.

¤ Types of Yoga

Astanga Yoga
Astanga laid out in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and means eight limbs in Sanskrit. The asana was formulated by Krishnamacharya and Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, from an ancient text called the Yoga Korunta - described as a peculiar system of hatha yoga developed by Vamana Rishi.

Bikram Yoga
Named after its founder Bikram chowdry, Bikram Yoga has 26 poses in series and they are performed at heat of 90-100 degree Farenheit. Each of the yoga pose is performed twice and is held for a certain period time. The session starts from standing postured and the follow the backbends, forward bends and twists. The poses in Bikram Yoga are accompanied by Kapalabhati or 'breath of fire'.

Iyengar Yoga
Created by B.K.S. Iyengar, Iyengar Yoga is a form of yoga which uses props like belts and blocks and it aids in performing asanas. This yoga is also based on Patanjali, a traditional eight limbs of Yoga, in his Yoga Sutras. The asana enforces development of strength, stamina, flexibility and balance. It also involves concentration and meditation.

Kundalini yoga
As an ancient form of yoga, Kundalini is a meditative way which comprises of simple technique and used body, mind and senses needed for communication between mind and body.

¤ Yoga Destinations in India

Homeopathy Remedy

¤ Another Branch of Medicines

Homeopathy RemedyThe average library has more books on homeopathy than any other branch of alternative medicine and it is astonishing to find that even the smallest of the street pharmacies seem to stock a basic range of homeopathic remedies.

Dr. Dana Ullman, founder president of the Foundation for Homeopathic Education and Research, in his book, " Homeopathy-Medicine of the 21st century" has outlined the growing popularity of homeopathy. Conventional drugs are usually prescribed in individual capacities to act upon specific parts of the body, so it follows that several different drugs might be prescribed to treat the various symptoms of one individual. Homeopathic medicine offers an alternative .

¤ Single Medicine Concept

Instead of giving one medicine for a person’s headache, another for his constipation, another for his irritability and yet another to counteract the effects of one or more the medicines, the homeopathic physician prescribes a single medicine at a time that will stimulate the person’s immune and defense capacity and bring about an overall improvement in that person’s health The procedure by which the homeopath finds the precise individual substance is the very science and arts of homeopathy.

¤ Working of Homeopathy Treatment

Homeopathy is based on the principle of "like healing like " ( Simile Similibus Curentur); homeopathy believes that a sick person’s symptom are sings of the body’s battle against illness and they try to stimulate, rather than suppress his reaction.
A homeopathic remedy is given to cure a set of symptoms in a sick person, which it would cause in a healthy person. The treatment was discovered some 200 years ago by a German doctor, Friedrich Samuel Hahnemann, who found when he took a dose of quinine.
It made him feverish, gave him the symptoms he would have expected to get if he had contracted malaria, then very common. It is the very same principle that was discovered at around the same time in Britain by Dr. Edward Jenner, who proved ture the old wives’ tale about cowpox protecting against smallpox. He went on to develop the vaccine that made his name in history and which eradicated the disease world wide.
Hahnemann pursued the principle in different direction and found that if the strength of a homeopathic remedy were diluted, its effect was improved.

Homeopathic medicine is a natural pharmaceutical system that utilises microdoses of substances from the plant, mineral and animal kingdom to arouse a person's natural healing substances from the plant, mineral and animal kingdoms to arouse a person’s natural healing response.
Homeopathy is a sophisticated method of individualising small doses of medicine in order to initiate that healing response. Unlike conventional drugs, which act primarily by having by having direct effect upon physiological process related to a person’s symptoms’ homeopathic medicines are, thought to work by stimulating the person’s immune system, which raises his or her overall level of health thereby enabling him or her to re-establish health and prevent disease.

¤ More Inclination Towards Homeopathy

Homeopathy RemedyAs people develop greater understanding and respect for the body’s immune system, homeopathy will gain polarity as a primary pharmacological means to stimulate immune response.
Those convenient medical therapies that primarily treat and suppress symptoms will be accepted for their valuable role in health care, but not necessarily as a first course of treatment.
Homeopaths have found clinical experience that their medicines often replace conventional drugs and eliminate the need for heroic procedures. Ideally, homeopaths are taking the best of the natural science to create a kind of care that will be commonplace in future.

One of the most common misconceptions about homeopathy is that it relies on intuitive relationships between patient and healer. In reality, it depends on acute powers of observation rather than any mystical process.
Even a skeptical Edelman agrees that Homeopathy is an unorthodox but no longer crazy way to perform immunotherapy. By homeopathy any ailment, acute or chronic, local or general can be treated except diseases where surgery is unavoidable. Even in cases of enlarged tonsils, kidney stones, warts, piles, homeopathy has received accolades. Moreover good homeopathic prescribing has made many operation unnecessary.


¤ A Chinese Art of Healing

Acupuncture in indiaOne of the oldest forms of alternative medicine, this ancient Chinese art is still viewed with trepidation by the lay person

The earliest success in this therapy is recorded by a historian of the Han Dyansty (206 BC -220 AD ) where a doctor brought a patient out of coma by applying acupuncture needles. The doctor was Pein Chueh, who later summed up his forerunners’ medical experience and set forth diagnostic methods. The story started with stone needles and later nine metal needles (four of gold and five of silver) were discovered from graves dating back to the second century BC.

¤ The Magic of Needles

Some types of needles have fallen into disuse. Those most commonly used today are an improved form of the ancient filiform needle, while the three-edged needle used in venous pricking is practically the same as its ancient counterpart.
Therapists believe that when the body is unwell the flow of the vital energy of the body or the Qi (pronounced Chee), as it is known, that normally flows through 14 pathways called meredians, gets blocked for some reason. Inserting needles into points along the meredian path or twirling them or charging them with electrical impulse unblocks the chi and restores the health.
Many doctors use acupuncture to treat specific conditions only - such as pain (largely rheumatism and arthritis) and also addiction. Some acupuncturists apply their techniques to virtually any conditions presented to them by a sick or troubled patient. Because of a holistic approach, acupuncturists are trained to look for the onset of disease before the patient is even aware of anything being wrong.

¤ The Theory of Channels and Collaterals

The theory of Channels and Collaterals in Chinese medicine maintains that all points ( in acupuncture a point means a specific spot on the body where needling is done to evoke certain reactions) are capable of both reflecting functional changes of the viscera on the body surface and passing sensations from the body surface to the viscera.

According to Chinese traditional medical books there were 12 channels, 15 collaterals and 8 extraordinary channels interwoven into a ‘ system of channels and collaterals’ linking the viscera and the body surface, the head and limbs into one integrated whole.
The treatments involve a dozen or fewer disposable needles. While occasionally uncomfortable, the insertions are almost never painful.
The needles used are so tiny, most patients only feel a slight impression. Some practitioners deliver a low voltage electrical impulse through the needles to increase pain relief; at higher frequencies, it is a means of anesthesia. It often takes 6 to 8 sessions for symptoms to resolve, though some difficult problems may require up to a year of treatment.

¤ Point Injection Therapy

Another method, point injection therapy, a combination of Chinese and Western practice, was developed on the basis of acupuncture. A disease is treated or prevented by the combined effect of needling and drugs. Distilled water or drugs in small doses are injected into the points or painful spots. Advantages of this therapy are its versatility, economy in the use of drugs, short course of treatment and effectiveness.

The World Health Organisation has cited 104 different conditions that acupuncture may help, including the common cold, sinusitis, gastrointestinal disorders, sciatica and tennis elbow.

¤ Use Acupuncture Anaesthesia
Acupuncture Anaesthesia

Many hospitals in China now use acupuncture anaesthesia extensively and for patients of all ages from infants to octogenarians, including patients in critical condition. It has proved successful in more than a hundred types of major and minor operations from simple to highly complicated diseases such as cardiac surgery under extracorporeal circulation.

Men in their mid-thirties have an increased risk in areas in which acupuncture is very helpful. This is an age when men begin to experience (high) blood pressure, prostrate inflammation, and sore backs, knees and elbows.

¤ Moxibustion Associated With Acupuncture

The therapeutic effect of moxibustion is produced by the heat of slowly burning moxa wool sticks (moxa wool is the shredded dried leaves of Chinese wormwood) held near the diseased area or acupuncture point, or moxa cones placed directly on or above the area. Though acupuncture and moxibustion are two different methods, both are applied to points selected on the basis of the Chinese theory of Channels and Collaterals.

¤ Application of Moxibustion

The Chinese Canon of Medicine states that moxibustion may be applied when acupuncture proves ineffective, giving the rationale for the long-term juxtaposition of the two.
The aroma given off by burning moxa has been determined by modern science to be due to the volatile oil content in its leaves, which is effective against certain disease-producing bacteria.

In the beginning direct moxibustion was applied, which was administered by placing a moxa cone directly over the point on the skin. The moxa cone is generally about the size of a half date stone and the smallest being the size of a grain. Currently, the stick is made by rolling the moxawool firmly in soft paper and shaping it like a large - size cigarette. On application, the ignited stick is held over the acupuncture point, and the duration and intensity of the heat is controlled to produce the desired effect at the point. Does all of this work? Try it and find out!


Aromatherapy heals in a easy and gentle way. and what’s more, the ‘treatment’ is not just for your physical problems, but for your mental and emotional problems as well.

¤ Aromatherapy Oldest Forms of Natural Therapy of India

Aromatherapy.jpgAromatherapy is one of the oldest forms of natural therapy practiced in India, and also in Egypt and China. Way back in 1000 BC, people used aromatic oils and plants to adorn their bodies and for physical and mental well being, for religious purposes and for mummification.
With a rekindling of interest in the ‘natural way of life’ people are once again turning to aromatherapy, the most natural and beneficial of all forms of naturopathy. Aromatherapy is not to be confused with herbals or nature cure, the latter being the wider domain.

¤ Treatment With Oils

Aromatherapy is the precise art of using Essential Oils. These oils are the distilled vital essence of a plant with complex hydrocarbons, and are present in flowers, leaves, grass, roots, barks, seeds and fruit rind. A single drop of this essential oil, equivalent to an ounce of living plant, is highly potent. The process of extraction is rather slow, laborious and expensive. To give you an example, 30 roses would give only a single drop of rose oil.

Likewise aromatherapy works subtly but steadily. Needless to say, it has a more holistic approach. When you smell something pleasant, the message goes directly to the brain, and then subconsciously it modifies your emotional behavior and physical infirmity. For instance, the scent of sandal paste, which is a must for puja (ritual worship) in the morning – a time when one is a blithe spirit – is bound to bring happy associations. A whiff of sandal at the end of a tiring day is a good thing to refresh the mood. and the smells you gather work on your perceptions and mood.

¤ Oil Treatment Proves Magical

Essential oils are like sacred gifts of nature. Very small amounts can work wonders for our bodies, stimulating, rejuvenating and balancing our delicate life-support system; they literally spring the body back into action. The oils can be applied directly to the afflicted part of the body, or can be heated so that its fumes can be inhaled.
They increase mental activity, stimulate positive feelings and control the negative ones, trigger pleasant memories, deodorize, bring calmness, energize and activate blood circulation and sexual feelings.
All this in addition to their curative properties. The oils are good fighters against bacterial and viral diseases, septic infections, rheumatism, insomnia, anxiety, indigestion and other ailments. They also work well as anti-diuretic, anti-venomous, anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic and anti-toxic agents. But more than anything else, essential oils are especially great for hair and beauty treatments, what with their enormous rejuvenating capacity.

¤ The Use of Oil In Hospitals

In many places, hospitals have replaced chemical sedatives with essential oil blends which include lavender, marjoram, geranium and cardamom oils.
Firms in Japan are pumping aromatherapy oils through air cooling systems for a unique purpose – to increase employee efficiency! In India, many homes have been into this business of essential oils since long, though not knowing the fashionable term ‘aromatherapy’.
The burning of incense sticks and the use of ittars (traditional perfume concentrates) is something you’d find in many Indian homes.

Today aromatherapy is fast becoming the keyword in beauty and health spas, perfume and cosmetic industries the world over. One can see clearly that it is poised to be the alternative healing system of the future. So whatever be your ailment, let the fragrances of nature be the doctor!


¤ A Vital Curative Force Within The Body

Naturopathy Naturopathy is a century old healing disciple that fell from favour about 40 years ago, when drugs and technology became the norm. But recent years have seen the revival of naturopath’s popularity, as more people have become disillusioned with conventional medicine. The appeal of naturopathic physicians is that while they have an educational background similar to that of conventional MD's, they also take extensive course work in various alternative remedies.

This practice is based on recognition that the body possesses an inherent ability to heal thyself. Naturopathy or the healing power of nature ( vis medicatrix naturae), underpins nearly all the therapeutic techniques in alternative medicine.

¤ Acupuncture, Manipulation and Homeopathy

They all depend on body’s ability to heal itself if pushed, needled or coaxed in the right direction. Although naturopathy is a relatively recent word, its therapeutic approach and principles represent the essence of a broad holistic attitude to health and disease. It challenges reductionism, which represents the essential philosophical basis and attitude of modern scientific medicine.

¤ Naturopaths

Naturopaths believe that illness is caused by bad living habits like eating the wrong foods, too much stress and not having enough exercise. As a result of all these, waste materials and bodily refuse build up and poison the system. The therapy is to throw off these toxic accumulations by adapting to a healthier regime including a wholesome diet, hydro therapy, manipulation and psychological counseling.

The physician takes an extensive case history, including not only family disease history but also your own habits, such as what you eat and how much exercise and sleep you get, as well as your feelings and attitudes towards your health.

¤ Naturopathic Physicians

Naturopathic physicians vary in their approach, style and choices of therapies -- one practitioner might rely heavily on herbal medicine while another may emphasize homeopathy - but they all base their practices on the same underlying principles of healing.
These include a belief in the healing power of nature, the importance of treating the whole person, the goal of treating the cause of an illness rather than merely the symptoms, the idea that the prevention of illness is the ultimate cure and the priority of doing no harm to the patient (such as avoiding treatments that cause side effects).

This means using only agents upon which life depends, and more or less as they are found in nature, such as air, water, sunlight, relaxation, exercise and dietic adjustment. Many naturopaths use other techniques, such as acupuncture, but these may properly be considered auxiliary. Naturopaths believe that orthodox treatment only drives the symptoms underground ready to return another time, because it does not remove their cause.

¤ The Practice of Fasting

Many "health farms" began with the therapy in mind, especially with the fasting regimes designed to purify the system, and the complete ban on smoking and alcohol. Most doctors believe naturopathic techniques are suited to prevention rather than cure. This is despite the growing evidence that high fiber diets, low fat diets and additive free diets can effectively control heart disease, bowel conditions and allergies. A naturopath merely finds the most appropriate way to help the body to stimulate itself into using its inherent powers to heal itself.

¤ Meditation and Relaxation

Naturopathy in one way can be said to have been practiced from earliest times. We can say that the first man to rest and miss a meal when he felt off colour was practicing naturopathy; the first people to relax their stiffened muscles by bathing in hot springs, or relieve pain and inflammation with cold water sprays, were applying naturopathic methods. The individuals who first developed meditation and relaxation as a means of calming the turmoil of their spirits were acting naturopathically.

¤ Naturopathy- A Self Healing System

NaturopathyNaturopathy is the creation of conditions which enable the body to heal itself as far as it is capable of so doing. The earliest physicians used their observations of the body in health and disease to evolve an art of healing whose principles hold good to this day. Man was seen as integral part of nature and the universe, and they recognised that his health depended on maintaining harmony with them. The means of achieving this were present in the basic essential of life.

Rather than prescribing a standard treatment for common health complaints, a naturopathic physician provides an individualised approach based on natural therapies. If your complaint is a sore throat, the doctor might prescribe immune boosting vitamins and herbs, show you how to use a throat compress to bring blood to the area to speed the healing, or help you understand how you dietary habits trigger recurring infection.

In the year 1829, Vincenz Priessnitz cured himself by nature’s methods after being given up by the medical profession, founded a sanatorium on his father’s homestead in Germany. His pharmacopoeia consisted neither in pills of doctor, nor any suppressive methods of treatment but in pre unadulterated food, bathing in the sparkling brooks, fresh air and exercise, massage fasting and the like. Since then nature cure has spread rapidly.

Herbal Healing

Herbal Healing
Written record of history bear testimony to their use in the earliest known times.
One of the longest medical paypri - Papyrus Ebers, dating back to the second century B.C. describes various ailments and their herbal remedies like myrrh, cumin, peppermint, caraway, fennel, olive oil, etc. Licorce was possibly a prized herb as it was discovered in abundance from the tomb of king Tut that dates to 3000 B.C. The earliest Chinese book on medical herbs, written around the same time epitomises ginseng, besides listing numerous other herbs. The Arabs, Greeks, Persians, Babylonians and Romans were adept in herbal healing.

Pliny, Horace, Theophrastus, Aristophon, Virgil, among others were the ancient writers who recorded herbs and their place in the life of their times. Where ever man went, herbs were there for him, marking their intimate tracery through his history. Mithridates eating each morning his cakes of rue, to counter poison which might have been in his food; Casanova chewing sweet herbs to perfume his breath; Charlemagne choosing the herbs for his royal gardens; the companions of Columbus sowing borage on Isabella Island.

¤ Traditional Use of Herbs

Traditionally, herbs have come to be understood as those plants whose leaves, stems, or seeds have aromatic or medicinal qualities, so that they may be used as perfume, food seasoning, medicine or were used as dyes and cosmetics.
There is quiet a pleasure in herbal aromas that is difficult to describe. They are strangely ethereal, yet robust and earthly, and that is reward enough for growing them. Today, herbs and the shops that sell them are a common sight.
Believe it or not, traditional medicines coming from plants keep 75 percent of the world alive. We also have hundreds of books on herbs and how to grow them. Large scale nurseries have mushroomed everywhere that take care of local needs and exports. Herbs have replaced salt, sugar, sweeteners and caffeine loaded beverages. Adverse medical reports form the world of medicine has given rise to a whole new industry- herbal teas, herbal honey, herbal soap, herbal toothpaste, etc.

¤ Travel Kits With Herbal Remedies

Today we have travel kits packed with herbal remedies which can put you back in good health much more gently than drugs can. These kits can treat a range of minor ailments - from cuts and scrapes to motion sickness.
Today’s medicine chest goes beyond the dettol, vicks and asprin. Aloevera, ginger, garlic peppermint, echinacea, etc are given special place of honour. Several such herbs have gained their reputation by proving themselves to human beings repeatedly over the course of centuries.
As with good friends, their reputation is the result of the constant caring effort they show us, and the human level delights they shower upon us in quiet ways that delight the heart. The connection we’ve formed with herbs may seem indefinably magical, yet it is undeniably real.

¤ Drugs In Their Pure State

Herbal HealingUpto the 19th century, the only ‘drugs’ available as cures were in the pure state as nature’s bounty. In reality, the boundary between natural and synthetic is, at best, a little fuzzy. Did you know for example, that the ubiquitous asprin was synthesized from the weeping willow tree? and its pain easing properties have been known since the first century ? Morphine, as you known, is extracted from the poppy and, try as they might, scientists have found it impossible to duplicate or better its marvellous, life saving, pain suppressant qualities in the laboratory.

Four out of five children with leukaemia survive, thanks to the chemicals - vincristine and vinblasstine which contain extracts from the rosy periwinkle from the Madagascan rainforest which tribal healers have been using for hundreds of years as a medicine. Cancer of the lung, kidney and testes responds to etoposide, a drug synthesized from mayapples. Mandrake, mentioned in the Bible and by Pluto, who wrote of it ‘chaining up the noble captain’s senses’, yields an important sedative, hyoscine. Now called scopolamine, it remains the standard preoperative medication. Watercress leaves applied to the temples are reputed to ease headaches. Spirit of rosemary massaged into joints is said to relieve aches. Inhaled basil oil can help clear sinuses and an infusion of sorrel cleanses kidney and blood.

¤ Herbs-The Essence of All Medicines

Over a quarter of all prescribed medicines are based on plants. Yet, of the estimated 250,000 flowering plants alone that are believed to be in existence, only around 5000 have been tested extensively for their pharmaceutical attributes. Thanks to our growing concern for ecology that has stirred our interest in plants.

While for many years synthetic drugs have been considered the only reliable and effective way of treating illness, herbalism is now undergoing a revival. The WHO promotes it as a relevant therapy even though health standard authorities are skeptical because of difficulties controlling testing and standardization. In America, for instance, federal law makes it tricky for manufacturers to say much about the benefits of herbs on their labels, leaving consumers to help themselves. Comparatively Germany is way ahead where 70 percent of the country’s general practitioners regularly prescribe herbal remedies. In Asian countries, herbal remedies have a still greater hold and people selling herbals are considered as good a herbalist.

Healing Fruits

¤ Healing Power of Fruits

Healing FruitsFruits are easily available and almost everywhere. It requires no hunting, killing, cleaning, thrashing or processing. They simply hang, benevolently ripening, upon the branches to be plucked as you pass by.

Hakims, vaids and doctors often recommend one fruit or the other but they seldom prescribe them as a full and final cure. However, nature’s tempting and delicious food deserves a better deal. It is time to realise that beyond the fruit bowl’s gustatory pleasures, the nutritious fruits possess marvelous curative properties.

There are reasons why fruits, today, don’t perform the much talked about miracles. Wrong eating habits and improper supply are two of the basic reasons among many others that has tarnished the image of fruits.

¤ Fruits Work Wonders

Fruits work wonders during their respective seasons. Don’t expect the same taste, nutritional value and benefits after storing and consuming them at an altered season. Unseasonal fruits and vegetables can only satisfy the sense of taste buds but nothing beyond.

Normally we mix fruits with meals. Usually fruits are taken after meals and that too in low quantity which fails to display any significant result. Fruits are best taken on an empty stomach and is advisable to mix them with milk wherever possible. Taking fruits in the morning and at noon followed by a flat meal including bread and vegetables in the evening is a good scheme.

¤ The Fear of Chemical Use

Fear of chemical residues lingering on most of the fruits tempt us to peel them off. Much is lost during the process and further the use of knife blade earns a minus point in fruit treatment.

Potentially hazardous pesticides (including insecticides, herbicides and fungicides), synthetic fertilizers, ripening agents (Altar tinted apples for instance), genetic engineering have written off the fate of fruits for once and all.

Unfortunately we don’t have any environmental agency to regulate and monitor the pesticide residue levels standards. Worse still, no one objects the sale of rotten fruits and vegetables peppered with dust and flies. At most, the law flexes its muscles to curb the crushing of sugarcane juice that is steeped in stale water.

Worse still is the story of genetic engineered fruits and vegetables that appear brighter, bigger and tend to stay fresh longer. However, researchers are silent about its consequences, its implications involved in dabbling with a plant’s chemistry that are unknown and therefore foreboding.

¤ Fruits Medicinal Quality

The beneficent aspect of fruits and vegetables are essentially in their vitamin content. Further they defend the body against so called "free radicals" which are molecules that damage cells.

Home Remedies

¤ Ease The Mind If Not The Body

Home RemediesAn honest answer, now. Would your boss be more concerned if you told him you’d discovered a computer virus in your office, or if you phoned to say you were fighting a bout with the flu ?

Yes, sometimes in this high-tech age it seems that technological woes get more attention than human ailments. Books dealing with herbal or natural remedies or with foods having healing qualities are selling well now.

Sceptics would argue that mud on a bee sting or cucumber slices on tired eyes should go the way of the dinosaurs, that home remedies can’t compete with more sophisticated medication.

¤ The Natural Remidies

Modern medicine and magic are not as incompatible as one might think. Western medicine continues to incorporate many irrational elements and doctors still include a certain amount of ‘magic’ in their treatment. In Middle Ages, the Church condemned magic as hocus-pocus but today, from the 40th floor, we still find the pull of the past fairly strong.

Some prescriptions may sound silly and absurd, but people are reverting to such medicine with great interest. There were many experts who doubted, for instance, that frog skin could be of any use for a weak heart. They began to see things in a different light, however, when scientists discovered in frogs a chemical similar to Ritalin, the drug used by doctors to stimulate the heart.

Earlier this century, doctors began using Chaulmoogra oil as the main ingredient in the treatment of leprosy. Chinese herbalists had been using the oil for the same purpose for the past 600 years.

Researchers have now started investigating into some such traditional claims. Are the tails of tow red spotted lizards (one male, one female) the best cure for pulmonary tuberculosis? Can the ashes of burnt elephant skin help close slow healing wounds? Is the flesh of a terrapin any good for veneral disease?

¤ Some Amusing and Adventurous Prescriptions

Some of the prescriptions are quite amusing and adventurous. They could be tried for the sake of fun, the famous ginseng root, for example, is supposed to be dug from the ground at midnight under a full moon, and it must be prepared only in a wooden container.
Its substitute locally available is Hydrocotyle Asiatica, it has an oleaginous substance, ‘Vellarin, ‘ having the odour and bitter persistent taste of fresh plant, but it is strongly recommended by herbalists and scientists.
But the home-medicine practitioner does need to exercise care. It’s not simply a matter of crushing herbs and flower petals at random. People also need to guard against using home remedies for more serious illnesses. Azaleas, for example, can be deadly, causing vomiting and convulsions, and interrupting breathing. People are turning to books for written verification of home remedies.

¤ Some Favourite Prescriptions

Home Remedies

¤ Anxiety : Besides recommending exercise and breathing exercises, a mild tranquilliser is calming without being sedating. Passion flower is very much recommended. One dropful of the tincture in a little warm water or two capsules of the extract up to four times a day as needed.

¤ Athlete's Foot : Apply a light coating of tea plant oil (be sure it’s the pure variety) to the affected areas three or four times a day. Continue for two weeks after the infection disappears to be sure the fungus is gone. People, who are prone to frequent fungal infections, also might try adding one or two cloves of raw garlic to the diet to prevent infections because raw garlic is a strong anti-fungal agent.

¤ Skin Ailments : Green oil of maltas is a wonder cure for pimples. Incipient pimples can be suppressed almost overnight with the application of conchshell powder. Juice of basil leaf blended with Chandan paste will dry up the most stubborn eruptions. Worried about scars left behind by pimples? Try green coconut water or mehndi if you can tolerate the stain on the original mark for a couple of days. Another effective remedy for pimples and stains is the paste of ginger and salt.

Interested in improving your complexion? Try oatmeal beaten up with an egg white. The mixture should be spread over the face and left to dry. It is removed by washing with lukewarm water and the treatment should finish with a wash using very cold water. Another formula is milk mixed with turmeric and almond paste. Yet another combination is turmeric and cummin seed. If you are simply considering a fresh look, try podina leaves, allowing the extract to dry on your face and wash it off after 15 minutes. Similar effects can be obtained by applying the papaya pulp.

Mudbaths Healing

Mudbaths Healing We are dust and to dust we will return is the common belief associated with most of the religions. Still, there is an interval between the cradle and the grave which can amount to good many enjoyable years, joined to earth as element and as mythical origin.
In his desperate search for health, beauty and eternal youth, man has tried everything that nature has to offer as a possible therapy.

¤ The Healing Power of Dead Sea Mud

People visit the Dead Sea to benefit from the therapeutic powers of water and mud of the Dead Sea, which is the lowest point on earth (400 meters below sea level).
Cleopatra and Queen Sheba are known to have used Dead Sea black mud and salts, which contain more than 20 types of health giving minerals, for their relaxing and beautifying properties. The renowned Jordanian Dead Sea mud and salts are marketed throughout the world.
They are believed to be ideal for treating acne, eczema, psoriasis, athlete's foot and several other skin ailments. The most popular is the mud masque which helps to tighten pores and stimulate as well as nourish the skin for a radiant and more youthful appearance.
Coating your body with the Dead Sea black mud can provide relief from skin and physical ailments such as black spots, acne on the back, arthritis, muscle stiffness, chilban and rheumatism.

¤ The Mud Treatment

Once the type of clay has been chosen, from among the incredible variety of possibilities, a paste is made of appropriate thickness for the part of the body that is to be treated. Applications can be made in very specific areas, such as face, abdomen or legs.
In general, clay has an astringent effect upon the skin; as it dries it contracts the tissues, giving them firmness and eliminating fat and dead cells.
Apart form this effect, minerals and other nutrients, components of the clay itself, are absorbed by the skin in pursuit of its natural urge to regenerate. Clay also has qualities as a thermal element, which can at times help to fix the body’s internal heat (remember that mud poultices on the stomach have always been considered an effective remedy for reducing high fever). In the same way, a bath in dry sand is a highly effective treatment, in particular for the skin and circulation problems.

Certain exfoliation methods, applied to the face or the body, can be performed with sands that remove dead tissue, activate blood circulation and help to keep your skin healthy and robust.

In spite of the marvellous results of these therapeutic procedures, the over use of this type of bath, mask or application can result in excessive drying of the skin, and it is therefore advisable to moisten it after each treatment to avoid possible stretching and similar counterproductive complications.

The properties of the soil will always be beneficial and enriching for our bodies, above all now when urban pollution affects the normal development of our organism more and more every day and the rhythm of modern urban life keeps us so far from nature.

The heavy stratified earth, Multani Matti (Bole Armeniac) has been used by women for washing hair. Its regular use makes the hair appear soft and shining . It has also been used effectively in epistaxis and hematuria. A small piece of Multani Matti is crushed and steeped in water overnight. It is exposed to the dew and the following day the water is filtered and consumed while the earth paste is applied to the nose, forehead and soft palate. Within few days of its use, bleeding stops. Multani is also useful in prickly heat . A paste prepared by steeping it in water and then applied over affected areas. It is also used as a base for various face packs.

If you believe in clay, enjoy the great sensation that its application provides. See its beneficial effects for yourself.

Magic of Colors

¤ Add Colour To Your Life

Magic of ColorsWho has not found beauty in colour ? It is a phenomenon that has caught imagination and stimulated the creativity of artists, scientists, and philosophers. Colour has been an inspiration for so many, but that is not the only reason why it is important. Today the frontiers of colours and their potential are subject to research, yielding new facts on the file.

¤ The Choice of Colour

The fact that colour can trigger off many of the symptoms of tension is now well established. But it is in the field of mental illness that colour therapy is exciting researchers and there the results have varied from the extraordinary to baffling. It appears that a whole range of mental patients react to colour and can be calmed and helped by soothing colours in their surroundings. It is established that the use of positive cheerful colour arises the alertness and energy level of senile patients, while dull and dingy colours encourages them to sink further.

For use in the hospitals in Great Britain in the 1930, a green was developed for the ease of surgeons who looked at red blood and tissue for a period of time saw disconnecting green (red’s complimentary) after-images when they glanced up at white walls, sheets, towels and garments. To solve the problem, the walls, clothing and towels in the operating areas were all coloured green. " Eye ease green" was developed to have a specific effect in a particular setting, worked well there and then was used widely elsewhere without any real justification, while for the surgeons it helped to concentrate and allayed their worries about visual difficulties while operating.

Despite shortcomings, researchers have been able to pinpoint some specific behaviour responses to colour. Those who sat under red lights gambled more and selected ‘riskier’ bets than those who sat under the blue light. Yellow seems to provoke violence and anti social feelings.

¤ Common Reaction Towards Colour

Sure, each of us has a favourite colour and even on a national or raical scale has a preferred colour ‘above the rules’.
The colours are selected for various reasons-historical, political, or symbolical-and each nation has arrived at its choice through its own special circumstances. Green is often used to symbolise a nation’s forest and agriculture; red denotes the blood shed by the patriots; and so on. Some flags like those of Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, France have no colour significance, they use old heraldic or dynastic colours.

You only have to think of the green shamrock as the luck of the Irish; of Siamese pink, the colour of the Royal Thai pink elephant, of lucky Chinese red ( a preference shared by the Russian-Kassnoye in Russian means red, Krassa means beauty) or of the Madonna blue in every Christian church that popularised blue throughout Europe.

As our normal reactions to colour are now established, we don’t have to be professional colour experts to carry the positive properties of colour into our own house setting if we latch onto a few of the basic rules.

¤ Characteristics of Colour

- Pale colour creates space and air. If you work in a crowded dark coloured surroundings, come home to a clear sky blue room and you will actually breathe easier.

- The sand/earth/taupe tones generate a feeling of warm, secure comfort. The relaxation therapy for anyone who passes their working day under glaring strobe lighting in vast open areas like supermarket.

- The green /blues of foliage and running water act to relieve the tensions built up by the grey concrete jungle of modern cities.

and of course, pink colour of flowers, femininity and sweet fruit flesh, is just what the doctor ordered to raise any woman’s morals when she gets home. Best of all in the colour therapists’ book for the modern city dweller is a rectangular dose of the colours of nature. Spend a regular part of your leisure out of doors, fill your eyes with the living colour of flowers and trees and grass, open up your horizon with the sea and sky and you’ll never need a tranquilliser.

The colours in nature serve as the basis of many of our most fundamental moods. But like seasons, our moods change. Unlike the colours we wear on a day-to-day basis, which may reflect fashion or professional considerations, there is a particular colour we identify with that reveals much about us.

From psychological point of view, there appear to be four, rather than three fundamental colours-red yellow, green and blue.

Do you know what your hues are?

¤ White : White has always epitomised purity and virginity. It reflects all the rays of the Sun and is dazzling in its purity. Angels are depicted in white and so do Jains wear exclusive white clothing since any form of dyeing is considered impure, which perhaps, is the reason why people performing puja rituals wear white too.

You feel like a bride on her wedding day, untouched, open to a vast and exciting array of experiences. White is not worn during Hindu weddings as it is connected with mourning (as also in China) but like the Christians, the Kerela brides dress in white with gold edged sarees. Additionally, since white is the colour of mother’s millk, you’re feeling nurturing and supportive. and perhaps, even at a deeper level, since white is an amalgam of all the other colours, you experience a sense of ‘oneness’ with everything around you. The Taj Mahal of Agra in white marble continues to pray for peace of the departed soul of Shah Jehan’s beloved Mumtaz.

Similarly, the snow-clad mountains bestow upon the minds of the people calmness and peace. It was in the midst of the serenity and calm of these white giants that our forefathers practised meditation and found for us the great spiritual truths of life.

¤ Black : Just as white as always symbolised the positive, black has always accentuated the negative, reflecting an unhappy state of mind, sorrow or ill omen. The spot of black or kohl, on the body of the bride and groom is supposed to protect them from evil. Black is the colour of night, the same night that terrified our forefathers as well as the child in all of us. Where as the sun represents life, the darkness is the absence of warmth and clarity. Black means you’re in a funeral mood.

In the condemned cell where a prisoner is kept prior to the execution, he is made to wear black handcuffs and black dress. This is to concentrate his mind on becoming courageous enough to stand the ordeal. In Equatiorial Africa which has the maximum sunshine of a blazing sun all the year round, black colour becomes their pet and so black stripes are popular in the national flags of the resurgent countries of this Continent.

¤ Gold/Silver : The colours gold and silver invoke the impression of wealth and affluence. You are feeling rich-optimistic about a business deal or investment scheme. Indeed the opulence in your life may be more spiritual than material.

¤ Brown : This colour projects a mood of despair and despondency but most of all, loss. Brown is the shade of late fall. It signals the end of a period of growth and development. Similarly, you feel that you’re in the midst of your autumn years. Instead of allowing yourself to have spring in your step, you cling to these murky feelings.

¤ Red : Red is the colour of blood, and that’s exactly what you feel throbbing in your veins. You’re alive! and you want the world to know it. Your personality is - at once expansive and aggressive. Which means you’re also highly excitable and easily frustrated. When this occurs, the end result is that you literally ‘see red’.
A sure stimulant to some, your vitality is a sure threat to others. The popular suhaag symbol - the sindoor or kumkum ( vermillion on the forehead) is indicative of a woman’s marital status. Red is considered pious, as it has several emotional, sexual and fertility related qualities. Red bordered sarees are popular among Bengali women while in Punjab brides are decked in red.

Food Healing

Food - A Necessity of Life
Food Healing
Ever since we could foresee our death, we have sought the means to forestall it. Our mistake has been in thinking that the key to longevity must be exotic: rare herb or some alchemic formula.

If consideration is given to those factors likely to prolong and enhance life and those which are considered more likely to shorten it, we can understand the dilemma of the modern food industry which is frequently called on to explain its role and activities in relationship with its consumers.

Food is vital for the survival of all organisms, but we consider it something that is taken for granted. Obesity in some societies is a sign of affluence, while the underdeveloped world is starving, thanks to the uneven distribution rather than failures in production.
Food is embedded in every country’s customs, religion and language.

Words that originally referred to food and eating are accepted as general vocabulary : problems are meaty, gossip in juicy, language in fruity, children are sweet, old maids are sour, the disappointed are bitter and everything is a matter of taste. Luxuries are the icing on the cake, top people are la creme de la creme, the basic necessities of life, the bread and butter, can be beefed up or given spice!

¤ The Worry of Availability of Food

The food supply is no longer completely subject to the whims of nature, because some measure of control can be exercised over nature’s hazards. Most of our society does not worry if there will be enough food to last them through the winter.

In view of the advances in agricultural and food processing techniques, why has food quality and safety become such an emotional issue ? As society has become more urbanized, most people have become more dependent on others to produce their food. This dependency has led to resentment and mistrust of the food industry, and a yearning for a return to the good old days and ways. Technology has been blamed for degrading the food supply.

As of today, biotechnology is threatening to transform every area of the food industry. By manipulating genes, scientists hope to grow crops in the hardiest of climates.
Fuelled by consumer demand, different species of plants and animals are created through gene technology. and coming soon to a supermarket near you, will be bright, round and more ‘perfect’ vegetables genetically altered so they stay fresher longer.
Already the majority of the world’s staple crops have been genetically modified. These genetically modified crops have sneaked their way into the supermarket shelves in the form of processed foods.

¤Adulteration In Food

A necessary prerequisite of the food supply for any population is that it should be safe. Adulteration of food, for reasons of scarcity to deceive customers, brought about some of the earliest food legislation. Contamination through ignorance, neglect, or sometimes by malicious intent by individuals, groups or companies, showed scant concern for the health and well being of customers. The common adulteration of foods with commodities as dangerous as lead sulphate, as innocuous as chalk or as irritating and abrasive as sand is often publicised.

The need to provide sufficient, inexpensive food for the growing urban markets spurred on the development of new fertilizers and the chemical control of pests. Lack of knowledge of the long term effects of the use of pesticides and lack of concern for the environment brought stern, almost hysterical, comments from the researchers with prophesies of doom and prediction of mass poisoning form residues of such chemical agents in the food chain. The analytical chemist can now measure levels of content that toxicologists are unable to evaluate for biological significance.

The implications involved in dabbling with a plant’s chemistry are unknown and therefore foreboding. Scientists are prepared to upset the genetic codes of animals and foodstuffs to increase the profits of corrupt and greedy chemical multinationals. Nature has the power to adapt changing circumstances and critics fear that these plants, genetically altered thwart pests and weeds, may upset the ecological balance and possibly lead to superweeds and superbugs.

¤ The Food Safety
Food Healing
All would agree that water is not only safe but essential, yet pure water kills if ten liters are consumed at one sitting. Safety refers not only to the food but also to the customer. The major food safety issues from the consumer’s viewpoint have been pesticides and additives. Very little attention was given to nutrition, almost nothing to microbiological contamination and there was no recorded interest in natural toxicants. Many homes have unsafe food storage and preparation practices, but consumers rarely consider their own food practices a hazard.

Meanwhile, the natural toxins will not go away, but there is little anyone wants to do about them. Ironically, less is known of their effects than about the pesticides and additives everyone dreads. A new hazard facing the consumer is the result of the genetic engineering of plant and animal systems. There are undoubted advantages to the producer, but is the consumer safe ?

Already scientists in Scotland are injecting growth hormones into Salmon in order for them to grow five times their normal size. The salmon is not alone. We also have fast growing pigs, chickens whose immune systems is tricked to target their own fat cells and therefore produce leaner meat, sheep which have been genetically engineered to produce more wool and Australia even boasts of some self shearing sheep.

¤ Quality Control

Various definitions of quality exist, but two of the most useful are ; "Quality is fitness for use" and "Quality is conformance to requirements". Consumers now require round - the -year availability of fruit, vegetables, fish, and meat, giving more marketing opportunities. Shelf life is expected to extend almost indefinitely irrespective of store, transport or consumer abuse. Convenience of shopping, packaging, storage, preparation and consumption are demands that accept no denial in a no growth market. Value for money is most frequently in the eye of the perceiver. One stop shopping is a value factor, much undeterred.

Consumer demands now extend to regions previously unvisited by the industry. Fresh, natural (nature identical), wholesome (unprocessed ?), healthy (fits current diet) are all specifications that consumers are using to define their ideas of quality. General ignorance of composition, processing, spoilage and hygiene can make minimally processed food a hazard and not a treat. A good example is the drop in safety in moving from frozen to chilled foods. Higher perceived quality is matches by higher potential risk and a need for more sophisticated handling techniques. The need for greater vigilance in handling such food products in not often met.

How Much is Too Much


AlcoholAlcohol in itself is tasteless. It is the chemistry of ‘congeners’ that comes along for the ride in a bottle of booze, giving a drink its colour, flavour and character. It stems from various sources like aging of the liquor, fermentation or other sprit-making processes.

Vodka, for instance, comes closest to being simply alcohol mixed with water and therefore has the least of congeners, followed by gin, which uses herbs and spices to give the liquid its unique flavour.

Scotch has four times as many of these chemicals as gin, brandy, rum and malts have about six times as many. Tiny amounts of alcohol are produced by bacteria in our body all the time. When alcohol enters our gullet, it reacts with an enzyme in the stomach and liver that converts the alcohol to acetaldehyde. While alcohol makes you drunk, the accumulation of acetaldehyde gives you a hangover. Your body can burn off about a half ounce of pure alcohol (about the amount in a single dose) in an hour.

It is simple mathematics that demonstrates that a 12 ounce beer (which is 5% alcohol) contains about a half ounce of alcohol; the same is true for a five ounce glass of wine (which is 12% alcohol) or a one and a half ounce shot of 80 proof whisky (which is 40% alcohol). About 20-30% of the alcohol is absorbed into the blood through the stomach and small intestine.

The alcohol in our bloodstream travels to various parts of the body. When it reaches the brain it replaces water molecules and thus slows down brain efficiency. Overdose of alcohol shuts down the central nervous system to the point where our brain stops sending out signals reminding you to breathe!!

One starts feeling hungry when alcohol breaks down our body’s molecular energy stores and one feels an urge to urinate more frequently because it shuts down production of hormone that helps our body reabsorb water.

Finally, it is quantity, not quality, that results in a hangover. Congeners merely enhance the pain, but the real culprit is alcohol and its chemical reaction. All alcoholic drinks are high in calories and dismally low in protein. Despite centuries of claims to the contrary, there is no cure for the whisky blues. The Germans eat bananas with red meat for breakfast, the Chinese drink tea brewed from spinach. The Swiss suck a can of oxygen while the Russians recommend more of Vodka!!

Remember that there is no such things as a bad drink, just bad drinkers. Studies suggest that a little bit of drinking - one or two pegs a day - might be beneficial to your health. It possibly reduces the incidence of heart disease and further, moderate drinkers rarely catch cold.

¤ Caffine

Coffee, the world’s most popular drink, gets the kick from caffeine that occurs naturally in some 60 types of plants - coffee, tea and cocoa are the best known. Caffeine is blamed for many health problems ranging from addiction and heart disease to low birth weight in babies. A person who drinks five or more cups of coffee daily often faces the risk of getting a heart disease.

Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system and affects chemical messengers in the brain called neurotransmitters. Consequently, it makes you feel more alert and enhances concentration and performance. It also speeds up your metabolism, making you burn more calories, but the increase is so small it won’t make you lose weight. Excess caffeine (more than 5/6 cups or 12 cans of cola) can cause shakiness and it is best advised to remain within the four cup limit. John Hopkin Medical School in Washington advises limiting coffee to not more than two cups per day.

Caffeine has been held responsible for raising both cholesterol and blood pressure. Other studies hold it responsible for breast cancer and miscarriage. Caffeine is further believed to increase the rate at which our bodies get rid of calcium and it was thought that it could increase the risk of bone shrinkage. However, the Scottish Heart Health Study discounts any link between coffee, caffeine and heart diseases.

Changing to decaffeinated coffee does not automatically solve the problems linked with coffee. It should be ensured that decaffeination has been achieved by the process of water extraction because when chemicals are used in the process of solvent extraction, some residues of chemicals are left behind.

¤ Exercise

There are a number of reasons why healthy exercises cross the line into unhealthy behaviour. often the goal is to lose weight, while others may be inclined to think that if moderate exercise is so obviously good for your body, then heavy exercise must be twice as good!

However, the fact remains that even if you don’t feel it immediately, repeated stress and prolonged repetitive movements without rest are sure to result in injury to your muscles, ligaments, tendons and joints, and this will only worsen with repeated activity.

Moderate, balanced and regular exercise, such as brisk walking, provides numerous benefits including higher energy levels, lower risk of ischemic stroke, toning up of body and improved posture. It can help to lower the risk of heart disease, build a strong immune system and increase bone density. It is also a valuable way of distressing after a hard day’s work.

The problem is that too much exercise will have the opposite effect. A minimum of 20 minutes exercise, three times a week (this is a minimum) is ideal. often people undertake exercise to achieve healthy benefits with the aim of enjoying life more, but an obsessive exercise routine leaves no time for relaxation or rewards.

Long distance runners who log 60 miles a week are more likely to suffer from degenerative hip diseases compared to other fit athletes who just run seven miles a week.

In most of the exercise programmes ‘rocovery’ is the missing element where people train and train but overlook the idea that resting and recovering is what makes people fitter. What is considered to be "too much" exercise will vary from person to person. If you are not sure you may contact a professional trainer to help devise a fitness programme to suit your fitness level.

¤ Fibre

Fibre rich foods are welcome for our digestive system but unfortunately some people follow the maxim that if little is good, a lot will be much better. It is hard to overdose on dietary fibre, since you’d tend to start feeling very full before you achieve the danger zone. Possibly six bowls of fibre rich cereal in one sitting will be enough to demonstrate the bad stomach ache from all those fermented carbohydrates in your gut.

Even fibre rich medications used in weight loss have been reported to swell up before they reach the stomach, causing a blockage. Dietary fibre is essential to ward off constipation but all precaution is required while prescribing concentrated fibre.

¤ Noise

Loud noise including music wears down the delicate hair cells in the inner ear that translate sound into nerve impulses. The amount of damage and whether it is permanent or temporary depends on the loudness and duration of exposure.

Sitting in front of a wall of amplifiers at a rock concert for two hours is enough to do some permanent damage to your hearing. One warning sign that you’re being exposed to noise that is too loud is a ringing tone in your ear. Your ears are trying to tell you that they’ve been bruised. The longer or more intense the exposure , the longer the ear rings after the noise concludes. Another indication is the fullness in the ears after excessive noise exposure.

¤ Salt

Millions of lives could be saved it we ate less salt because there would be fewer heart attacks and strokes. This was the finding of specialists at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital in London after they analysed data from 78 studies involving 47,000 people around the world.

Salt in our daily life comes from various sources. It comes naturally in a good number of foods like meat, fruits, vegetables and dairy products. Food manufacturers add salt to most canned and bottled products.

The specialists say that if people over 50 were to cut their intake of salt by three grams a day - that’s about half a teaspoon - heart disease would be reduced by a sixth and strokes by a fifth. Our body requires 500 milligrams of salt (one sixth of a teaspoon). Although some people may swear they can’t enjoy a meal unless they’ve reached for the salt first, it doesn’t take long to get used to food without it. You won’t find many simpler ways of improving your chances of staying healthy so it makes sense to cut back.

¤ Sleep

SleepThe most common beliefs, the sort of things we encounter in medical books, are that we need to sleep for eight, that it is harmful to our health to go without sleep and that we need sleep to restore our bodies. Not so, suggests Dr Jim Horne from Loughborough University.

The body needs only six hours’ sleep and it doesn’t become ill if we have even less. Food and rest are far more important to it than sleep. However, sleeping for more than ten hours every night may shorten your life. Mortality rates for long sleepers were around two times greater than the rate for people who slept 7 to 8 hours.

¤ Sex

Cases of death during sex have been reported but they are very few and far between. Something not to worry about. The ’sex wrecks you’ attitude existed in the ancient folklores of India, China etc and even Victorian physicians subscribed to this hypothesis. Players and athletes believe that sex drains them and their output in the field is greatly diminished.

During the 1982 World Cup Peru lost to Poland and the reason attributed was sex before the game. However, sex is treated differently by individuals. For some it enhances their performance and they climb to snatch the top prize while for others it lets them down to the drains of defeat. A number of world class runners, sportsmen and other players have walked off successfully in their respective sports after sexual indulgence.

There are even legends attached to sportsmen performing sex between the game. A male marathon runner at the New York Road Runners Club is said to have quit halfway through the race, entered a motel with his girlfriend, had sex and then finished the marathon.

Sex is possibly the ideal anti-anxiety drug and the benefits are tremendous. A study at the University of Rome claims that around 100 calories per hour go up in an average sexual intercourse. Ejaculation in itself is more demanding and can be ticked at 400 calories per hour, but since the largest ejaculation on record is 15 seconds, you can count on losing not more than a calorie or two there.

¤ Sugar

There isn’t the only reason we adore sweets. When experiencing sweetness, the body releases endorphins, which are natural ‘feel good’ chemicals. But it is easy to confuse a craving for sugar with a yen for fat. If you’re in the mood for jelly, you probably want sugar. If you’re dying for chocolate, you may want fat too. According to one report, a sugar-fat combination increases the level of several brain chemicals, including serotonin, which is associated with relaxation.

Many people report that high sugar intake causes children to ‘climb the wall’. A few pediatricians do agree but they are not supported by well-controlled studies. The American Food and Drug Administration believes that sugar does not cause high blood pressure, heart disease, cancer or malnutrition. New studies have even cleared sugar as the culprit behind hyperactivity in children.

Eating too much sugar may lead to obesity. Excess sugar is also reported to stiffen collagen and therefore less sugar might help slow aging in people of normal weight. Although each gram of sugar contains only 4 calories (compared to 9 for fat), people are consuming huge amounts of sweeteners in the form of cakes and cookies. Sugars and starches, known scientifically as simple and complex carbohydrates, may trigger weight gain in people with a condition called insulin resistance. All obese individuals and as many as 25 per cent of the rest of the population would be affected. Certain people produce too much insulin after eating sugar or starch. Insulin breaks down carbohydrates and stores them as fat; overproducing insulin may lead to obesity.

If you think honey, maple or corn syrup are healthy alternatives to sugar, think again. These stand-ins contain only trace amounts of vitamins and minerals. Molasses deliver slightly more calcium, iron, and B vitamins.

If you are healthy, eating well, exercising and don’t have any weight problem, it’s okay to enjoy sugar and starches. But it you are overweight, you need to watch your calorie intake, stay active and take it easy on fat free cake.

¤ Sun

Until yesterday we were supposed to keep out of the sun but as more and more scientific data are pouring in we need to befriend the sun. After all, nothing will grow without the sun, even people are reported to become depressed and moody and many get vitaminosis (lack of vitamins essential to health). The sun is needed to stimulate vitamin D production in the skin, which in turn influences calcium metabolism and so on.

Most present day cosmetics make us look younger and are set to erase our wrinkles. Most wrinkles are a result of damage caused by free radicals, unstable chemicals that form when the skin is exposed to sun or pollution. They are sensitizing our skin to the point where we are supposed to keep out of the sun. However, the sun turns on our metabolism as well. Establish your relationship with the sun but simply don’t over do it.

Prefer the early morning hours when the air still possesses the touch of freshness and is sprinkled with negative ions. Avoid the hot noon sun when the rays are shorter and hotter. A minimum of 20 minutes direct exposure to the sun daily is recommended by doctors.

Applying suntan lotion is no protection from sun exposure. One can get sun burned through clothing. Loosely woven fabrics offer minimal protection while tight denims and canvas are ideal defence. Sunburn can be further aggravated by certain drugs and medications like tetracycline, antibiotics, tranquilizers and diuretics. Sun damage is responsible for most of what we think of as aging. Skin damage builds up invisibly for years before you actually see it.

The eyes are most vulnerable to sun damage. The skin on your eyelids is subject to skin cancer. Unprotected eyes lose up to 50 per cent of their night vision after a day spent in the sun. This is especially true if you’ve been on the water or snow. Studies have shown that long-term exposure to the ultraviolet rays of the sun can harm the nose cartilage and in some cases make the tip droop.

¤ Vitamins

VitaminsTrade in vitamins, food supplements and minerals is recording an all time high. People are taking mega doses of vitamins. It all started when Nobel Laureate Dr Lingus Pauling established that vitamin C prevented cold. It is believed that water soluble vitamins are not stored in your body and they may do some good. We have been told that the only two reasons for taking vitamins are if you are not eating well and you know you need supplements, and pregnancy. But how a third reason has surfaced; vitamins are claiming to produce better job performance, better sex lives, less hair loss, glowing skin and weight loss. and who would not like to get them all in a pill?

The late Lingus Pauling advised taking 3,200 milligrams of VitaminC a day or more to ward off everything from cancer to heart disease. Yet the experts recommend that a daily intake of just 60 mg a day (the amount in four ounces of orange juice) will keep one healthy. However, biochemists from the National Institute of Health suggest the intake of 200 mg a day. Higher doses are simply excreted through the urine.

Excess vitamin A or their concentration (50,000 international units) can certainly kill humans. When the Arctic explorers killed polar bears and consumed their livers they developed the same symptoms as these animals that live on fish and have a concentrate of vitamin A.

¤ Water

Water is one of those things that we’ve come to take for granted. It is only when we find a dry tap that we realise just how precious it is. We all know that water is not only safe but essential, yet pure water kills if 10 litres are consumed in one go. A normal man needs six to eight glasses a day. If we drink ten times the required average in a day, it could potentially overwhelm the kidney’s ability to excrete the liquid, resulting in intoxication. Symptoms include nausea, light-headedness and even seizures. It can also prove fatal in extreme cases.

Thanks to the poor quality of water supplied by the municipalities of most towns and cities, the demand for bottled mineral water has gone up quite considerably in recent years. But how safe is this water ? What is the guarantee that after paying so much, the consumer is really getting potable mineral water?

Food sold in the market is duly monitored by the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, but water is not considered a food and therefore does not come under the ambit of the PFAA. In fact the very name "mineral water" was originally given to water obtained from a natural spring, as the water had a high mineral content.

Today, it is municipal water which is bottled after blending it with minerals. It is important to set the maximum limits for minerals because even though these minerals are essential for the human body, they can have an adverse effect if consumed beyond a certain limit.

So stay within limits with even the good things in life.