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Sunday, August 31, 2008

What is SARS ?

Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) is a viral respiratory illness that first emerged in China in November 2002, and later spread through international travel to 29 countries worldwide causing large outbreaks in Hong Kong; Taiwan; Singapore; Hanoi, Vietnam; and Toronto, Canada. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), from November 2002 to July 31, 2003, there were 8,098 cases of SARS; of these, 774 died.

On October 1, 2003, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reported that there were 164 probable and suspect SARS cases in the United States, of which only eight had laboratory evidence of SARS. There were no deaths due to SARS in the US. Most of the U.S. SARS cases were among travelers returning from other parts of the world with SARS. There were 11 suspect and probable SARS cases investigated by the Minnesota Department of Health; many of these individuals had an alternative diagnosis that could explain their symptoms.

What causes SARS ?
SARS is caused by a virus called the SARS-associated coronavirus (SARS-CoV). It was first identified in April 2003 and is a member of the Coronaviridae family, which also includes many of the viruses that cause the common cold. Coronaviruses have been found in many different animal species including birds and mammals. SARS-CoV is thought to have passed from animals to humans through close contact, butchering or eating undercooked meat in parts of Southern China.

How does SARS spread ?
* SARS is spread primarily by close person-to-person contact. In the context of SARS, close contact means having cared for or lived with someone with SARS or having direct contact with respiratory secretions or body fluids of a patient with SARS.

- (Examples of close contact include kissing or hugging, sharing eating or drinking utensils, talking to someone within 3 feet, and touching someone directly. Close contact does not include activities like walking by a person or sitting across a waiting room or office for a brief time.)

* The virus that causes SARS is transmitted by the spread of respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

- When a person coughs or sneezes, small amounts of fluid are propelled for about 3 feet through the air and land on the mouth, nose or eyes of persons who are near by.

* The virus also can spread when a person touches a surface or object contaminated with these infectious droplets and then touches his or her mouth, nose, or eyes.

* It is possible that the SARS virus might spread more broadly through the air (airborne spread) or by other ways that are not now known.

Symptoms of SARS
For a severe respiratory illness to be SARS, there has to be a history of travel to a SARS affected area or close personal contact with a person with SARS, within ten days before symptoms start, this is called the epidemiological link. In general, SARS beginswith a high fever (temperature greater than 100.4°F [>38.0°C]). Other symptoms may include headache, an overall feeling of discomfort, and body aches. Some people also have mild respiratory symptoms at the outset. About 10% to 20% of patients have diarrhea. After 2 to 7 days, patients develop a dry cough, shortness of breath, and pneumonia.

How is SARS diagnosed ?
Doctors suspect SARS if a patient has a fever of 38.0C or 100.4F, respiratory symptoms and history of travel to a SARS affected area or close contact with a known SARS patient within 10 days before the fever or respiratory symptoms started. Since the initial symptoms of SARS are similar to influenza or other respiratory illnesses, a high level of suspicion and an accurate history is needed to differentiate SARS from other illnesses. There are several laboratory tests used to detect SARS-CoV and other causes of respiratory illness. In some persons it may take as long as 28 days after the start of symptoms to have a definite laboratory diagnosis.

How do we protect ourselves from SARS ?
If there are no known SARS cases in the world, we protect ourselves and others by following the usual infection control precautions. If you have a respiratory illness, with fever and cough, consider staying home, away from school or work to prevent giving it to others. If you are out in public, cover your mouth and nose with tissues when coughing or sneezing. Frequently wash your hands with soap or use alcohol hand sanitizers. If you are at a clinic or hospital inform the receptionist that you have a respiratory illness. Clinics may have a designated area for respiratory illness and may ask you to wear a mask to protect other patients and clinic staff. Talk to your doctor about a Flu shot which can protect you against influenza, another respiratory illness. If there is community transmission of SARS in any city in the world, the MDH will issue recommendations regarding precautions in Minnesota. We have learned that transmission of SARS was mainly among close personal contacts of ill persons and health care workers caring for them. It is unlikely that SARS can be acquired by walking or sitting across from a person with SARS. However, persons with SARS are advised to isolate themselves at home for 10 days after the resolution of fever, provided that their respiratory symptoms are improving.

In caring for a SARS patient at home strict infection control precautions should be followed.

* All persons in the household should carefully wash their hands frequently with soap or alcohol hand sanitizers, this should always be done after touching body fluids.

* Gloves can be used for direct contact with the patient or body fluids but should not replace hand washing.

* SARS patients should cover their mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing or if possible wear a surgical mask when in close contact with others. If the patient can not wear a mask, caretakers should wear a surgical mask or an N95 mask if available, when in close contact with the patient.

* Sharing of eating utensils, towels and bedding between the SARS patients and others should be avoided. The items can be used by others after routine washingwith soap and hot water. Surfaces soiled with body fluids should be cleaned with household disinfectants and gloves should be worn to clean these surfaces. Hands should be washed after removal and disposal of gloves.

* Household waste soiled with body fluids of SARS patients, including masks and tissues, may be discarded as normal waste.

* Household members and other close contacts of SARS patients should be watched for symptoms. Household members and other close contacts of SARS patients should measure their temperature twice daily. If fever or respiratory symptoms(cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing) develop they should seek medical care. Notify healthcare provider that a close contact of a SARS patient will be arriving for evaluation. Health care providers will need to make arrangements to prevent transmission to other patients and health care workers.

What is Hookworms ?

Hookworms are small, thread-like worms that burrow into the intestinal wall and consume blood. They are most commonly found in warm climates. There are numerous species of hookworms capable of infecting mammals, including humans.

Of the many types of hookworm, the Ancylostoma duodenale and Necator americanus hookworms most commonly infect humans. In fact, they currently infect about 800,000,000 people worldwide. The A. caninum and A. braziliense hookworms, which most commonly affect dogs and cats, respectively, are next in line in terms of their frequency of infecting humans.

Hookworms are an average of .39 inches (10 mm) in length. When they mate, the female lays eggs in the host. Though the number of eggs produced depends on the species, females can lay as many as 10,000 to 25,000 eggs in one day. These eggs are then passed in the feces of the host.

Juvenile hookworm eggs hatch about two days after they are passed in fecal matter. Juvenile hookworms, called larvae, reach the infective stage in just five days. The larvae are able to infect a new host by penetrating the host's skin. Once inside, they travel through the host's body to take up residence in the small intestine. They remain there as they grow to sexual maturity.

After entering the body of a new host, hookworms travel through the blood of their host to the lungs. They then penetrate the pulmonary capillaries and enter the alveoli. The alveoli are thin sacs in the lungs in which carbon dioxide and oxygen are exchanged. After they penetrate the alveoli, hookworms are coughed up and swallowed, traveling on to the small intestine.

Hookworms have mouthparts equipped with cutting plates. They attach to the small intestine using their mouthparts, penetrate blood vessels, and consume the host's blood. When they infect humans, the result can be excessive loss of blood. Infection is particularly devastating to children.

Hookworm infection may cause not only the depletion of blood, but also the permanent loss of iron and blood proteins. This creates an iron deficiency anemia and protein malnutrition that can, in severe cases, be fatal. In children, it most often leads to severe growth and developmental retardation. It can also lead to a physical weakness and listlessness that is often incorrectly identified as laziness.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

What is Down Syndrome ?

Down syndrome (DS), also called Trisomy 21, is a condition in which extra genetic material causes delays in the way a child develops, both mentally and physically. It affects about 1 in every 800 babies.

The physical features and medical problems associated with Down syndrome can vary widely from child to child. While some kids with DS need a lot of medical attention, others lead healthy lives.

Though Down syndrome can't be prevented, it can be detected before a child is born. The health problems that can go along with DS can be treated, and there are many resources within communities to help kids and their families who are living with the condition.

About Down Syndrome
Normally, at the time of conception a baby inherits genetic information from its parents in the form of 46 chromosomes: 23 from the mother and 23 from the father. In most cases of Down syndrome, a child gets an extra chromosome 21 — for a total of 47 chromosomes instead of 46. It's this extra genetic material that causes the physical features and developmental delays associated with DS.

Although no one knows for sure why DS occurs and there's no way to prevent the chromosomal error that causes it, scientists do know that women age 35 and older have a significantly higher risk of having a child with the condition. At age 30, for example, a woman has about a 1 in 900 chance of conceiving a child with DS. Those odds increase to about 1 in 350 by age 35. By 40 the risk rises to about 1 in 100.

How Down Syndrome Affects Kids ?
Kids with Down syndrome tend to share certain physical features such as a flat facial profile, an upward slant to the eyes, small ears, and a large or protruding tongue.

Low muscle tone (called hypotonia) is also characteristic of children with DS, and babies in particular may seem especially "floppy." Though this can and often does improve over time, most children with DS typically reach developmental milestones — like sitting up, crawling, and walking — later than other kids.

At birth, kids with DS are usually of average size, but they tend to grow at a slower rate and remain smaller than their peers. For infants, low muscle tone may contribute to sucking and feeding problems, as well as constipation and other digestive issues. Toddlers and older kids may have delays in speech and self-care skills like feeding, dressing, and toilet teaching.

Down syndrome affects kids' ability to learn in different ways, but most have mild to moderate intellectual impairment. Kids with DS can and do learn, and are capable of developing skills throughout their lives. They simply reach goals at a different pace — which is why it's important not to compare a child with DS against typically developing siblings or even other children with the condition.

Kids with DS have a wide range of abilities, and there's no way to tell at birth what they will be capable of as they grow up.

Medical Problems Associated With Down Syndrome
While some kids with DS have no significant health problems, others may experience a host of medical issues that require extra care. For example, almost half of all children born with DS will have a congenital heart defect.

Kids with Down syndrome are also at an increased risk of developing pulmonary hypertension, a serious condition that can lead to irreversible damage to the lungs. All infants with Down syndrome should be evaluated by a pediatric cardiologist.

Approximately half of all kids with DS also have problems with hearing and vision. Hearing loss can be related to fluid buildup in the inner ear or to structural problems of the ear itself. Vision problems commonly include amblyopia (lazy eye), near- or farsightedness, and an increased risk of cataracts. Regular evaluations by an audiologist and an ophthalmologist are necessary to detect and correct any problems before they affect language and learning skills.

Other medical conditions that may occur more frequently in kids with DS include thyroid problems, intestinal abnormalities, seizure disorders, respiratory problems, obesity, an increased susceptibility to infection, and a higher risk of childhood leukemia. Upper neck abnormalities are sometimes found and should be evaluated by a physician (these can be detected by cervical spine X-rays). Fortunately, many of these conditions are treatable.

Getting Help
If you're the parent of a child diagnosed with Down syndrome, you may at first feel overwhelmed by feelings of loss, guilt, and fear. Talking with other parents of kids with DS may help you deal with the initial shock and grief and find ways to look toward the future. Many parents find that learning as much as they can about DS helps alleviate some of their fears.

Experts recommend enrolling kids with Down syndrome in early-intervention services as soon as possible. Physical, occupational, and speech therapists and early-childhood educators can work with your child to encourage and accelerate development.

Many states provide free early-intervention services to kids with disabilities from birth to age 3, so check with your doctor or a social worker to learn what resources are available in your area.

Once your child is 3 years old, he or she is guaranteed educational services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Under IDEA, local school districts must provide "a free appropriate education in the least restrictive environment" and an individualized education plan (IEP) for each child.

Where to send your child to school can be a difficult decision. Some kids with Down syndrome have needs that are best met in a specialized program, while many others do well attending neighborhood schools alongside peers who don't have DS. Studies have shown that this type of situation, known as inclusion, is beneficial for both the child with DS as well as the other kids.

Your school district's child study team can work with you to determine what's best for your child, but remember, any decisions can and should involve your input, as you are your child's best advocate.

Today, many kids with Down syndrome go to school and enjoy many of the same activities as other kids their age. A few go on to college. Many transition to semi-independent living. Still others continue to live at home but are able to hold jobs, thus finding their own success in the community.

Friday, August 29, 2008

What is Subconjunctival Hemorrhages ?

[As explained by Wikipedia]

A subconjunctival hemorrhage (or subconjunctival haemorrhage) is bleeding underneath the conjunctiva. The conjunctiva contains many small, fragile blood vessels that are easily ruptured or broken. When this happens, blood leaks into the space between the conjunctiva and sclera.

Whereas a bruise typically appears black or blue underneath the skin, a subconjunctival hemorrhage initially appears bright red underneath the transparent conjunctiva. Later the hemorrhage may spread and become green or yellow, like a bruise. Usually this disappears within 2 weeks.

Although its appearance may be alarming, a subconjunctival hemorrhage is generally a painless and harmless condition; however, it may be associated with high blood pressure, or trauma to the eye.

* Minor eye trauma
* Spontaneously with increased venous pressure
* Strenuous Exercising
* Coughing
* Touching/widening eyes
* Sneezing
* Pulling extreme g-forces
* Vomiting, particularly forced vomiting as seen in bulimia nervosa
* Choking
* Straining
* Severe alcohol intoxication, leading to raised blood pressure
* Blood dyscrasia (rare)
* Severe hypertension
* Blood thinners, such as ginger, capsaicin, ginseng, garlic, aspirin, or Herba if taken in high doses or combined. These can also make the vessels in the eye more susceptible to the pressure causes listed above.
* Diving accidents-Mask Squeeze (volume inside in mask creates increased pressure with increased depth)
* Severe thoracic trauma, leading to increased pressure in the extremities, including around the eyes.

Subconjunctival hemorrhages in infants may be associated with scurvy (a vitamin C deficiency)

Treatment and management
A subconjunctival hemorrhage is typically a self-limiting condition that requires no treatment in the absence of infection or significant trauma. The elective use of aspirin and NSAIDs is typically discouraged.

A common symptom of a subconjunctival hemorrhage, itchy eyes, is often treated by applying eye drops or artificial tears to the affected eye(s), however, this is discouraged, as it may slow down the healing process.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

What is GTN sublingual tablets used for ?

How does it work ?

GTN sublingual tablets contain the active ingredient "glyceryl trinitrate", which is a type of medicine called a nitrate. It is used to help the heart work more easily. (NB. Glyceryl trinitrate is also available without a brand name, i.e. as the generic medicine.)

Glyceryl trinitrate works by being converted in the body to a chemical called nitric oxide. This chemical is made naturally by the body and has the effect of making the veins and arteries relax and widen (dilate). When the blood vessels dilate in this way there is more space inside them and hence less resistance. This makes it easier for the heart to pump blood around the body.

Widening the veins also decreases the volume of blood that returns to the heart with each heartbeat. This makes it easier for the heart to pump that blood out again.

As a result of both these actions, the heart does not need as much energy to pump the blood around the body and therefore needs less oxygen.

Glyceryl trinitrate also widens the arteries within the heart itself, which increases the blood and oxygen supply to the heart muscle.

The pain of angina is caused by too little oxygen reaching the heart when its workload increases, such as during exercise. Glyceryl trinitrate improves the oxygen supply to the heart, as well as decreasing the amount of oxygen that the heart needs by making it easier for the heart to pump blood around the body. It can therefore be used to treat angina.

GTN sublingual tablets should be allowed to dissolve under the tongue. This area of the mouth has a large supply of blood vessels that allows the medicine to be rapidly absorbed. Glyceryl trinitrate taken in this way is used to give rapid relief from the pain of an angina attack. The tablets can also be used to prevent an anticipated attack, for example before exercise or physical effort, emotional stress or exposure to cold.

Glyceryl trinitrate is also available as long-acting tablets, skin patches and ointment that are used regularly each day to help prevent angina attacks. See the factsheets linked at the end of this article for more information.

What is it used for ?

Prevention and relief of angina attacks.

Warning !

Follow the instructions you receive with this medicine. Glyceryl trinitrate sublingual tablets should be allowed to dissolve under the tongue - they should not be swallowed like normal tablets.

This medicine may cause dizziness and so may affect your ability to drive or operate machinery safely. Do not drive or operate machinery until you know how this medicine affects you and you are sure it won't affect your performance. If you do feel dizzy after taking a dose, sit or lie down until the symptoms pass.

Drinking alcohol may enhance some of the side effects of this medicine, such as feeling faint or dizzy.

Short-acting glyceryl trinitrate tablets should be kept in the container they are dispensed in and discarded after eight weeks. The tablets may lose their effectiveness if the container has been open for longer than eight weeks, or if the tablets are transferred to a different container.

Use with caution in :

- Severely decreased kidney function.

- Severely decreased liver function.

- People who have recently had a heart attack.

- Underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism).

- People with low levels of oxygen in their blood, eg due to lung disease.

- Dangerously low body temperature (hypothermia).

- Malnutrition.

Not to be used in :

* Allergy to nitrates.

* Low blood pressure (hypotension).

* Low volume of circulating blood (hypovolaemia).

* Inflammation of the sac surrounding the heart that stops the heart from beating properly (constrictive pericarditis).

* Fluid in the sac surrounding the heart that prevents the heart beating properly (cardiac tamponade).

* Narrowing of the main artery coming from the heart (aortic stenosis).

* Narrowing of one of the valves in the heart (mitral valve stenosis).

* Heart disease in which the muscle of the heart grows abnormally (hypertrophic obstructive cardiomyopathy).

* Head injury.

* Bleeding in the brain (cerebral haemorrhage).

* Severe anaemia.

* Closed angle glaucoma.

This medicine is not recommended for use in children.

This medicine should not be used if you are allergic to one or any of its ingredients. Please inform your doctor or pharmacist if you have previously experienced such an allergy.

If you feel you have experienced an allergic reaction, stop using this medicine and inform your doctor or pharmacist immediately.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding

Certain medicines should not be used during pregnancy or breastfeeding. However, other medicines may be safely used in pregnancy or breastfeeding providing the benefits to the mother outweigh the risks to the unborn baby. Always inform your doctor if you are pregnant or planning a pregnancy, before using any medicine.

The safety of this medicine for use during pregnancy has not been established. It should only be used during pregnancy if the benefits to the mother outweigh any risks to the developing baby. Seek medical advice from your doctor.

It is not known if this medicine passes into breast milk. It should only be used by breastfeeding mothers if the benefits to the mother outweigh any risks to the nursing infant. Seek medical advice from your doctor.

Label warnings

Allow medication to dissolve under the tongue. Do not transfer from the original container. Keep tightly closed. Discard eight weeks after opening.

Side effects

Medicines and their possible side effects can affect individual people in different ways. The following are some of the side effects that are known to be associated with this medicine. Just because a side effect is stated here does not mean that all people using this medicine will experience that or any side effect.

- Headache.

- Dizziness.

- Weakness.

- Nausea.

- Flushing.

- Burning or stinging sensation in the mouth.

- A drop in blood pressure that occurs when moving from a lying down or sitting position to sitting or standing, which results in dizziness and lightheadedness (postural hypotension).

- Increased heart rate (tachycardia).

- Decreased heart rate (bradycardia).

- Allergic skin reactions.

- Fainting.

The side effects listed above may not include all of the side effects reported by the drug's manufacturer.

For more information about any other possible risks associated with this medicine, please read the information provided with the medicine or consult your doctor or pharmacist.

How can this medicine affect other medicines ?

It is important to tell your doctor or pharmacist what medicines you are already taking, including those bought without a prescription and herbal medicines, before you start treatment with this medicine. Similarly, check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking any new medicines while taking this one, to ensure that the combination is safe.

The medicines for erectile dysfunction (impotence) listed below must not be used by people taking glyceryl trinitrate, because the combination can produce a severe drop in blood pressure resulting in dizziness, fainting, or even a heart attack :

* sildenafil (Viagra)

* tadalafil (Cialis)

* vardenafil (Levitra).

If this medicine is taken in combination with other medicines that reduce blood pressure, either as a treatment for high blood pressure (antihypertensives), or as a side effect, there may be an enhanced blood pressure lowering effect. This might make some people feel dizzy. If you do feel dizzy, you should lie down until the symptoms pass. Other medicines that can reduce blood pressure include the following :

* ACE inhibitors, eg enalapril, captopril

* alpha blockers, eg alfuzosin, doxazosin

* alprostadil

* anaesthetics

* angiotensin II receptor antagonists, eg losartan

* certain antipsychotic medicines, eg chlorpromazine

* baclofen

* benzodiazepines, eg temazepam

* beta-blockers, eg propranolol

* calcium channel blockers, eg diltiazem, verapamil, nifedipine

* clonidine

* diuretics, eg furosemide

* hydralazine

* levodopa

* MAOI antidepressants, eg phenelzine

* methyldopa

* minoxidil

* moxisylyte

* moxonidine

* other nitrates, eg isosorbide mononitrate, amyl nitrate (poppers)

* tricyclic antidepressants, eg amitriptyline.

If you are taking medicines that can cause a dry mouth, glyceryl trinitrate sublingual tablets may be less effective because they are not able to dissolve properly under your tongue. Medicines that can cause a dry mouth include the following :

* anticholinergic medicines for Parkinson's disease, eg procyclidine, trihexyphenidyl, orphenadrine

* anticholinergic medicines for urinary incontinence, eg oxybutynin, flavoxate, tolterodine, propiverine, trospium

* antihistamines, eg brompheniramine, chlorphenamine

* antispasmodic medicines, eg hyoscine

* MAOI or tricyclic antidepressants, eg phenelzine, amitriptyline

* antipsychotic medicines, eg chlorpromazine, clozapine.

If you experience this problem, you can help the GTN tablet dissolve by drinking a mouthful of water before putting the tablet under your tongue.

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Mystery of the Tree Man (Indonesia)

[Extracted from The Straits Times, Singapore dated 26th August 2008]

This indeed a very sad case about a family man, suffering from an unknown disease which makes him look more like a 'tree' than a real 'human'. Look at him (see below)

Dede, a 37-year-old from rural West Java, was taken home from Bandung city after nine months of operations to remove the woody growths that had smothered his hands and feet. (PHOTO : REUTERS)


JAKARTA - AN Indonesian villager dubbed 'Tree Man' for massive bark-like warts on his body returned home Monday after doctors removed six kilograms of the growths.

He said he hoped to return to normal life and find a new wife after decades burdened by the root-like growths, which had left him unable to move and work except in a travelling 'freak show'.

'Now I can live with my children... I can move and go anywhere,' Mr Dede told AFP via telephone from his village.

'I haven't got any plans to get married yet, but I would like to.'

Mr Dede had lived alone in the village after his wife left him and his teenage children went to stay with relatives because he could no longer care for them.

He said he had not yet talked to his ex-wife and did not know what he would do for work now that he was once again able to freely move his limbs.

His massive warts, which began growing out of control when he was still a teenager, were diagnosed last year by a US dermatologist as the result of a combination of the human papilloma virus and a genetic disorder that means his immune system is too weak to fight them off.

He will return to hospital at the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan in October for at least one more operation - the ninth - to remove the remaining 300g of the growths, Dr Winata said.

He has been given a strong course of medicine, including vitamin A, in an attempt to prevent the return of the growths, Winata said.

More pictures about this 'tree man' can be viewed at this website (stated below)

Accompanied herewith, is an interview with him personally, at his home (view it at the URL stated below)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Health Benefits of Lemon Grass !

[Authored by Manolito Montala]

Lemon grass (scientific name: Cymbopogon ciatrus), is one of those wondrous herbs that one can always associate with Asian cooking Thai, Malaysian and Vietnamese homegrown meal enthusiasts always have this tropical grass at hand for its aromatic citrus flavor with a trace of ginger. Few people know that its other popular name is citronella - the common scent you usually find in candles, perfumes and soaps.

Citronella is known for its calming effect that relieves insomnia or stress. It is also considered as a mild insect repellant. But more than scent, tanglad or lemon grass provides a lot of health benefits. Studies have shown that the lemon grass has antibacterial and antifungal properties. Mixed with pepper, it's a home therapy for menstrual troubles and nausea. Drank as tea, it is an effective diuretic. When it comes to pets, citronella is used to neutralize excessive barking of dogs. Since dogs hate citronella, it is sprayed to dogs to prevent them from barking or just to lessen the behavior.

The Lemon grass is a good cleanser that helps to detoxify the Liver, pancreas, kidney, bladder and the digestive tract. It cuts down uric acid, cholesterol, excess fats and other toxins in the body while stimulating digestion, blood circulation, and lactation; it also alleviates indigestion and gastroenteritis. It is said that lemongrass also helps improve the skin by reducing acne and pimples and acts as a muscle and tissue toner. Also, it can reduce blood pressure. Just make a concoction by boiling some lemon grass leaves, let it cool for a while and drink the liquid.

The leaves and base of this tender perennial are used as a food flavoring, particularly in fish and poultry dishes, and its essential oils are used medicinally. Its distinctive flavor balances hot chillies and contributes to the elaborate, multi-layered flavors of many dishes in South East Asian cuisine.

As the long, thin, grey-green leaves are tough and fibrous, the outside leaves and the tips are usually chopped very finely or discarded from the dish before it is served. The base is often ground. Citral, an essential oil also found in lemon peel, is the constituent responsible for its taste and aroma.

Lemon grass, also known as Sweet Rush and sometimes called Fever Grass in the Caribbean, can be used as a remedy for ague, fevers, and colds.

Filipino ingenuity has produced a commercial beverage made from lemon grass. A concentrate composed of lemon grass juice and muscovado sugar bottled in attractive design.

A recent study by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute of the department of Science and technology ( DOST ) claims that every 100g of edible tanglad when boiled can contain up to 24.205 micrograms of beta-carotene the anti-oxidant that scientists believe can help prevent cancer. Another DOST study shows that lemon grass oil has the potential as a tropical eye medication against keratomycosis, an inflammation of cornea often associated with burning or blurring of vision.

Health Benefits of Ginger !

[Extracted from Nutritional Supplements Health Guide]

Ginger has long been renowned for its use in cooking and for its aromatic smell, but did you know that there are also many health benefits of ginger root such as curing nausea and helping with digestion.

What is Ginger ?

Ginger is a plant that comes from southeast Asia, and is now also cultivated in Jamaica and other tropical areas. The ginger herb root is used for culinary and medicinal purposes.

Ginger is a natural spice and is known world wide for its smell and pungent taste. Ginger has been used by Chinese herbalists for more than 2,500 years as flavouring in food and also as a medicine.

What are the Health Benefits Of Ginger ?

There is a wide range of benefits of ginger such as nausea, digestive problems, circulation and arthritis. Nausea caused during pregnancy or by travelling is one of the benefits of ginger root. Ginger is also known to have the ability to calm an upset stomach and to promote the flow of bile. Stomach cramps can be eased and circulation can also be improved. Ginger supports a healthy cardiovascular system by making platelets less sticky which in turn reduces circulatory problems.

Ginger oil used for massage can help relieve painful arthritis due to its anti-inflammatory properties. Ginger is often included in many herbal decongestants and can help to minimise the symptoms of respiratory conditions, colds and allergies.

With all the benefits of ginger and continuing research, the ginger root is fast becoming a very popular medicinal herb.

How to Use Ginger ?

Ginger can be freshly grated and used in cooking. It is also available as a supplement which can be taken on a daily bases.

Gated ginger root mixed with diluted lime juice can help to soothe the digestive tract and reduce flatulence. It can be made into oil and used to massage areas of localised chronic pain. It can also be taken in an extract form to reduce inflammation.

When choosing a ginger supplement it is essential to choose ones that contain ginger's pungent compounds. These are gingerols and shogaols and are the ginger plant's active ingredients.

Ginger can be used in extract pill form and the dosage for this is 100 to 200mg up to three times a day. Fresh powdered ginger should be taken three times a day ½ to ¾ of a teaspoon. Fresh ginger root can be eaten every four hours but no more than three times a day and should be approximately ½ inch and peeled. Ginger tea which now comes prepackaged can be taken several times a day. Crystallised ginger can be taken twice a day.

With such a wide range ginger products available and with the ever increasing benefits of ginger being discovered ginger or a product of ginger is something that everyone should have in their homes.

Additional Information

In additional to the many benefits it is also good to know that there are no known drug side effects. Ginger does not interact with any other nutrients or drugs in the body and ginger in all forms is very safe to take.

Ginger capsules should be taken with a full glass of water or fluid. Ginger can be taken the day after surgery to prevent post surgery nausea but should be stopped at least three to four days prior to surgery, due to the fact that it can make blood platelets less sticky and therefore increases the risk of bleeding. For people undergoing radiotherapy or chemotherapy, ginger taken with food can help reduce stomach irritation.

There are, however, some cautions that have been recommended. These include not taking ginger for more than the first two months of pregnancy and no more than 250mg four times a day. People with gallstones should consult their doctors prior to taking ginger as it is know to increase bile flow.

With all this in mind it is clearly visible that the benefits of ginger far out weight the cautions mentioned.

Types of Mushrooms

[Extracted from Wisegeek's website]

As organic and vegetarian cooking has become more popular, people are branching out in their eating choices, even in so humble a domain as the mushroom. Most people are familiar with the white button mushrooms found in cartons and cans everywhere. However, there is a host of other varieties available, both in stores and by finding them wild on "mushrooming" expeditions. In every kind of cuisine, fresh mushrooms add delicate flavor and spongy texture to a variety of dishes.

People have tramped into damp forests and scoured meadows, mushrooming for these tasty fungi morsels for centuries. Many delicious, edible mushrooms are available, but only about three percent of wild mushrooms are safe for humans to digest.

Puffballs, morels, meadow mushrooms, and shaggy manes sprinkle hillsides and woods during many seasons. Enthusiasts target wet fields or fallen logs to pick whole mushrooms, pack them in wax paper, and carry them home to identify. The climate, vegetation, and kind of soil narrows down the mushroom variety, as well as coloring and shape.

Some edible mushrooms are so rare that they are now cultivated. These gourmet mushrooms include truffles, enoki, chanterelle, portabella, shiitake, and oyster. These cultivated varieties are also becoming more popular in the better grocery stores. Some businesses even sell "mushroom logs" that are seeded with several varieties of mushrooms for the enthusiast to grow and enjoy, secure in the knowledge he is getting a "wild" mushroom, but not a dangerous one.

Mushrooms are largely interchangeable in recipes. They can be used in sauces, soups, stews, stir-fry dishes, pasta accompaniments, on pizza, and raw, on salads. Like tofu, they tend to take on the flavor of what they are cooked with, all the while adding an earthy element of their own. Thousands of recipes are available in cookbooks and online.

In fact, those looking for wild mushrooms must consider a question of critical importance: are these mushrooms safe to eat? The fungi might grow out of a tree trunk or under a log, have red spots or pink gills, but for safe eating, they must be categorized as nonpoisonous.

Experts carefully describe characteristics of common mushrooms so aficionados can learn to identify them correctly. However, mushroom hunters must be extremely careful when ingesting any mushroom whose identity hasn't been confirmed. The best way to avoid poisonous wild mushrooms is to either leave them strictly alone, or to go mushrooming with an expert who knows how to tell the difference among the species. Some gardening cooperatives offer classes in mushroom hunting.

Poisonous mushrooms, feared as "toadstools" by past generations, have the power to kill a victim in under a week--sometimes in hours. They can often be identified by a cup at the bottom of the stem, called the volva. A deadly species called Amanita releases amatoxins and phalotoxins as they are digested over a period of days.

The first signs of poison might be cramps and headache, and soon the chemical destroys the liver and kidneys, resulting in organ failure and death. Galerina mushrooms also pose a major threat to humans. The Inocybe species can cause serious problems, such as a drop in blood pressure and heart rate, yet wil rarely cause death. Many species induce discomfort, such as vomiting and nausea, without resulting in long term damage.

Some mushrooms contain a chemical known as psilocybe, which can be considered a mild poison. Many of these "little brown mushrooms" are part of the entheogenic use of plants in shamanist ritual. In a spiritual context, ingestion of the sacred plant or fungi produces a divine experience through psychoactive substances. Some hallucinogenic mushrooms cause unpleasant side effects such as vomiting and fever.

Amateurs may want to start finding out more about mushroom varieties just by picking up a "variety" package at the supermarket. These will all be safe to eat and the cook can experiment to see which mushrooms suit which recipes. Then, maybe he or she will want to attempt cultivating edible mushrooms at home before hunting them in the wild.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Some of our daily health mistakes !

All of us make little health mistakes that cause damage to our bodies in the long run - simply because we are unaware we are doing something wrong. Here are some of the most common mistakes made by many of us.

Crossing our legs

Do you cross your legs at your knees when sitting ? Although we may believe that this is the lady-like elegant way to sit, sitting this way cuts down circulation to your legs. If you don't want varicose veins to mar the beauty of your legs and compromise your health, uncross your legs every time you realise you have one knee on top of the other. The best way to sit is to simply place both legs together on the floor, balancing your weight equally. If you feel like changing position, instead of crossing your legs, simply move both legs together to one side. As an alternative, you could also consider crossing your legs loosely at the ankles. This is a classically elegant way to sit, and is far better for your legs and your health than sitting with your legs crossed at your knees.

Not changing our toothbrush

How often do you change your toothbrush ? Most of us wait until most of the bristles have either fallen off, or are in such bad shape that we'd be embarrassed to pull out our brush in public. However, since not many of us need to pull out our brush in public, we carry on with our frayed one until we lose it. Replace your toothbrush often. Damaged bristles can harm the enamel, and don't massage your gums well. If you find brushing your teeth a pain like I do, but know you must do it, you might as well be doing it right. Imagine going through the annoyance of brushing your teeth twice a day only to find out that you're damaging your enamel every time you clean your teeth. Also, use a brush with soft bristles unless your dentist has advised otherwise.

Eating out often

There are oils that are high in cholesterol, and oils that cause little harm and are better for your heart. However, no matter how light the oil is, it is never a good idea to eat too much of it. Avoid fried foods.Remember that in all probability your favorite Indian food restaurant throws a huge, HUGE chunk of butter in a tiny bowl of dal. Rita, who worked in the kitchen of a 5 star hotel, was shocked when she saw the cook chop a 500gm butter slab in half, and throw half into a Paneer Makhani dish. No wonder the customers left licking their fingers. And no wonder they felt so stuffed and heavy afterwards. Limit outdoor eating unless you know that you're getting served light and healthy food.

Skipping breakfast

Never, ever skip breakfast. Remember, when you wake up in the morning it's been around 10-12 hours since your last meal. Your body needs food now, more than at any other time. Eat a heavy breakfast. You will then be busy through the day, and the calories will get expended quickly. If you are trying to diet, eat a light dinner. Here are some more common health mistakes we make. Being informed and making a few changes can help make us feel a whole lot better.

High heels

High heels sure look great, but they're murder for your back. This however doesn't mean you should steer clear of stilettos. Wear them, but not when you know you will be walking around a lot. Wear them when going out for lunch or dinner - when the only walking you will be doing is to your car, to the table, and back. Avoid high heels when you are going somewhere on foot. If you are constantly tempted to wear your heels, take a good look at your flats. Is there something about them you dislike? Invest in a new pair of beautiful flats or shoes with a low heel. Buy something you love, that you will enjoy wearing. If possible, get a matching bag. You will then enjoy your flats as much as you do your heels.

Sleeping on a soft bed

You don't have to sleep on the floor be kind to your back, but do make sure you have a firm mattress. Although a mattress on springs is soft and lovely to sink into, it's bad for your back. If you already have an old bed with springs, you don't need to invest in a new one - simply get a thick wooden plank put over the springs, and place the mattress on the plank. Similarly, if your mattress is old and lumpy, throw it out and get a new one. Your neck and your back will thank you. The same rule applies to sofas. If you will be spending hours on a sofa, get a firm yet comfortable one. Sofas you completely sink into are not the best idea.


No matter how comfortable sleeping with ten cushions is, have pity on your neck and resist. Sleep with one pillow, and make sure it is not too thick. If your pillow gets lumpy, discard it and go for a new one. Get a thin pillow if you sleep on your stomach, and something a little thicker if you sleep on your back, to give your neck adequate support.

Not exercising

So all of us know we should exercise more, but many of us don't. This is a health mistake we consciously make! And why is that ? Simply because we refuse to admit the damage we are causing to our bodies by not working out. A number of people only start working out once they've experienced a warning signal. Don't wait for a heart attack to strike before you decide to opt for a lifestyle change. Make the change now. You don't need to train for the marathon to be in top shape. Half an hour of brisk walking three to four times a week will make a world of difference to your health. You could then increase this to forty minutes, four times a week - and you're all set. If you haven't exercised for a week, you're making a mistake.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

How to eat fruits for better benefits ?

Eating Fruit

We all think eating fruits means just buying fruits, cutting it and just popping it into our mouths. It's not so easy as you think. It's important to know how and when to eat.

What is the correct way of eating fruits ?


* FRUITS SHOULD BE EATEN ON AN EMPTY STOMACH. If you eat fruit like that, it will play a major role to detoxify your system, supplying you with a great deal of energy for weight loss and other life activities.


Let's say you eat two slices of bread and then a slice of fruit. The slice of fruit is ready to go straight through the stomach into the intestines, but it is prevented from doing so. In the meantime the whole meal rots and ferments and turns to acid. The minute the fruit comes into contact with the food in the stomach and digestive juices, the entire mass of food begins to spoil.

So please eat your fruits on an EMPTY STOMACH or BEFORE your meals! You have heard people complaining - every time I eat water-melon I burp, when I eat durian my stomach bloats up, when I eat banana I feel like running to the toilet. Actually all this won't arise if you eat the fruit on an empty stomach. The fruit mixes with the putrefying other food and produces gas and hence you will bloat !

Graying hair, balding, nervous outburst and dark circles under the eyes all these will not happen if you take fruits on an empty stomach. There is no such thing as some fruits like orange and lemon are acidic because all fruits become alkaline in our body, according to Dr. Herbert Shelton, who did research on this matter. If you've mastered the correct way of eating fruits, you have the secret of beauty, longevity, health, energy, happiness and normal weight. When you need to drink fruit juice, drink only fresh fruit juice, NOT from the cans. Don't even drink juice that has been heated up. Don't eat cooked fruits because you don't get the nutrients at all. You only get to taste! Cooking destroys all the VITAMINS. But eating a whole fruit is better than drinking the juice. If you should drink the juice, drink it mouthful by mouthful slowly, be cause you must let it mix with your saliva before swallowing it. You can go on a 3-day fruit fast to cleanse your body. Just eat fruits, drink fruit juice throughout the 3 days and you'll be surprised when your friends tell you how radiant you look !

Tiny but mighty. This is a good source of potassium, magnesium, Vitamin E & fiber. Its Vitamin C content is twice that of an orange.

An apple a day keeps the doctor away? Although an apple has a low Vitamin C content, it has antioxidants & flavonoids which enhances the activity of Vitamin C, thereby helping to lower the risks of colon cancer, heart attack and stroke.

Protective Fruit. Strawberries have thehighest total antioxidant power among major fruits andprotects the body from cancer-causing, blood vessels-clogging free radicals.

Sweetest medicine. Taking 2-4 oranges a day may help keep colds away, lower cholesterol, prevent and dissolve kidney stones, as well as lessens the risk of colon cancer.

Coolest Thirst Quencher composed of 92% water, it is also packed with a giant dose of glutathione, which helps boost our immune system. They're also a key source of lycopene, the cancer fighting oxidant. Other nutrients found in watermelon are Vitamin C & Potassium.

Top awards for Vitamin C. They're the clear winners for their high Vitamin C content. Guava is also rich in fiber, which helps prevent constipation. Papaya is rich in carotene, which is good for your eyes.

Drinking Cold Water after meals = CANCER !

Can you believe this ?
For those who like to drink cold water, this article is applicable to you. It is nice to have a cup of cold drink after a meal. However, the cold water will solidify the oily stuff that you have just consumed. It will slow down the digestion. Once this 'sludge' reacts with the acid, it will break down and be absorbed by the intestine faster than the solid food. It will line the intestine. Very soon, this will turn into fats and lead to cancer. It is best to drink hot soup or warm water after a meal.

A serious note about heart attacks


Women should know that not every heart attack symptom is going to be the left arm hurting. Be aware of intense pain in the jaw line. You may never have the first chest pain during the course of a heart attack. Nausea and intense sweating are also common symptoms. 60% of people who have a heart attack while they are asleep do not wake up. Pain in the jaw can wake you from a sound sleep. Let's be careful and be aware. The more we know, the better chance we could survive. A Cardiologist says if everyone who gets this mail sends it to 10 people, you can be sure that we'll save at least one life. Read this...It could save your life !

Saturday, August 2, 2008

What is Kennedy's Disease ?

[Extracted from NINDS website]

What is Kennedy's Disease ?

Kennedy's disease is an inherited motor neuron disease that affects males. It is one of a group of disorders called spinal muscular atrophy (SMA). Onset of the disease is usually between the ages of 20 and 40, although it has been diagnosed in men from their teens to their 70s. Early symptoms include tremor of the outstretched hands, muscle cramps with exertion, and fasciculations (fleeting muscle twitches visible under the skin). Eventually, individuals develop limb weakness which usually begins in the pelvic or shoulder regions. Weakness of the facial and tongue muscles may occur later in the course of the disease and often leads to dysphagia (difficulty in swallowing), dysarthria (slurring of speech), and recurrent aspiration pneumonia. Some individuals develop gynecomastia (excessive enlargement of male breasts) and low sperm count or infertility. Still others develop non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus.

Kennedy's disease is an x-linked recessive disease, which means the patient's mother carries the defective gene on one of her X chromosomes. Daughters of patients with Kennedy's disease are also carriers and have a 1 in 2 chance of having a son affected with the disease. Parents with concerns about their children may wish to talk to a genetic counselor.

Is there any treatment ?

Currently, there is no known cure for Kennedy's disease. Treatment is symptomatic and supportive. Physical therapy and rehabilitation to slow muscle weakness and atrophy may prove helpful.

What is the prognosis ?

Kennedy's disease is slowly progressive. Individuals tend to remain ambulatory until late in the disease, although some may be wheelchair-bound during later stages. The life span of individuals with Kennedy's disease is usually normal.

What research is being done ?

The NINDS supports a broad spectrum of research on motor neuron diseases, such as Kennedy's disease. Much of this research is aimed at increasing scientific understanding of these diseases and, ultimately, finding ways to prevent, treat, and cure them.