Archive for the ‘General health’ Category

HOW VITAMIN C WORKS IN THE HUMAN BODY

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

Vitamin C — ascorbic acid — is essential in so many vital processes in the body that Adelle Davis described it as having ‘a finger in every pie’.

Ever since the substance which prevented scurvy — ascorbic acid — was isolated in 1928 by Dr Albert Szent Giorgyi and synthesized by Walter Haworth soon after (for which both received Nobel Prizes in 1937), a vast amount of research has been carried out and thousands of papers written about its nature and its effects in animals and humans. In all these forty years of research we still have not sorted out all its functions, but medical observations round the world are always finding new ways in which Vitamin C is a benefit to human health.

The symptoms of scurvy are merely the final break­down of tissues which depended on Vitamin C for their health. It plays a vital part in so many functions that when it is deficient the body literally ‘comes apart at the seams’.

Irwin Stone in his book The Healing Factor – Vitamin C Against Disease writes —

‘Ascorbic acid is involved in so many vital biochemical processes and is so important in daily living that, after forty years of research, we still have no clear idea of the way in which it works.’

Although we do not know exactly how it works, these years of research have revealed what Vitamin C — ascorbic acid — can do to help meet the many stresses and dangers to which the body is subject and to maintain health and equi­librium through it all.

Other animals can make their own Vitamin C to tide them over stresses and heal their wounds, but we human beings must rely on getting our vitamin from outside. We now have access to many Vitamin C rich foods, we know which they are and, luckily, we can get unlimited supplies of manufactured concentrated ascorbic acid to meet our needs.

Vitamin C fulfils many vital roles in the human body.
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WHY WE CAN’T MAKE OUR OWN VITAMIN C

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

Nature is teeming with paradoxes, seemingly contradictory facts and forces that finally contribute to what we call ‘the balance of nature’. One of the most far reaching is the fact that, although man has triumphed over the many living creatures that inhabit the earth, he still survives although he suffers from a severe disability in his chemical make up — he lacks that one enzyme which will turn glucose into as­corbic acid or Vitamin C.

Dr Irwin Stone in his epoch-making book The Healing Factor — Vitamin C Against Disease explains what probably happened to our evolving primeval ancestors some 20 to 60 million years ago.

‘In nearly all the mammals’, he writes, ‘ascorbic acid is manufactured in the liver from the blood sugar, glucose. The conversion proceeds step-wise, each step being con­trolled by a different enzyme. The mutation (change in the genes) that occurred in our ancestral species of primates (species of monkeys) destroyed his ability to manufacture that last enzyme in this series — L-gulonolactone oxidase into ascorbic acid, which was needed to carry out the various biochemical processes of life. The lack of this enzyme made this animal susceptible to the deadly disease, scurvy.

‘To this day, millions of years later, all the descendants of this mutated animal, including man, have the inter­mediate enzymes but lack this last one. And this is why man cannot make ascorbic acid in his liver!’

Irwin Stone calls the consequent low Vitamin C content of the body ‘hyposcorbaemia’ (‘hypo’ is a prefix meaning ‘too little’ — ‘hyper’ meaning ‘too much’).

Probably many species of animals lacking this power did not survive, but the monkey types, the little guinea pigs and some fruit eating bats living in the lush primeval forests that covered the earth obtained all the ascorbic acid they needed —■ and more — from the Vitamin C rich fruits, leaves, nuts and insects on which they lived. They did not need to manufacture it themselves.

As man evolved and came out of the forests to the plains he has sought other means of food supply — in hunting animals, in herding and domesticating them, in cultivating the earth and preserving its products — but always he obtained some ascorbic acid from his environ­ment, however unfavorable, if he was to survive.

The vastly different diets of such peoples as the Aus­tralian aborigines, the Eskimos, the Arabs, the Indians of America and the Indians of India show how man can adapt to his environment and his food supply — but can never survive without Vitamin C.

Those who depended on animal products and their herds always obtained some Vitamin C from the milk, meat and blood of their herds, even in cold winters, as these animals could make ascorbic acid from their dried stored fodder. Man could not.

They fared better than the agricultural peoples whose diet of grains might be rich in the B Vitamins but contained no Vitamin C. In the hard winters of the northern hemi­sphere when fresh fruits and green plants were unavailable, many died of scurvy and more sickened with diseases caused by Vitamin C deficiency before the spring brought back their vitamin rich growth to the sun warmed soil. No wonder that the coming of spring was welcomed with feast­ing and song.

When adventurous men left the land and embarked on long sea voyages in small ships and lived on food in which Vitamin C was absent or destroyed, they suffered the ‘sailors’ disease’ and many died from scurvy.

Through the original work of Dr Szent Giorgyi we are, indeed, lucky in our day and age to be able to buy over the counter as much as we need of the synthetic Vitamin C — which is essentially the same ascorbic acid that we humans cannot manufacture for ourselves.
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EMOTIONS: PSYCHIC INFLUENCES

Thursday, June 3rd, 2010

A reasonable number of unpleasant emotions is necessary for existence, but pleasant ones not only make life worth living, they help to preserve it. A quarter century ago I dropped into a surgical clinic and found that one surgeon used music in the operating room, not for the surgeons and nurses but for the patients. He also had an attractive woman whom he called his psychic anesthetist. She cheered up the patients or condoled with them. You can imagine that it took tact and good judgment to handle such a delicate matter. Later, in St. Louis, I found Dr. Vilray P. Blair using a special operating room for children. The walls and ceilings had colored pictures of fairies, Cinderella, Jack and the beanstalk, and possibly modern favorites. That was going a long way to use psychic influences on the youngsters.
Even longer ago there was a smallpox scare in the town where I went to college. It was decided to vaccinate the whole student body. The college physician, a tough, direct, former dashing athlete, not much given to babying his patients, realized that even such a simple thing as vaccination may be disturbing to the mind when the patient has to wait his turn in line. So he got a strikingly handsome, statuesque nurse to help him. Perhaps the boys then were not so engrossed in the other sex as they evidently are now, for several burly football players passed out before they got their scratches. Still, Dr. M. felt that the percentage was gratifyingly good. It is to be doubted that the stronger sex in the women’s college needed this psychic reinforcement.
Devotees of music ascribe intellectual values to it, but I think they will acknowledge its chief effects to be emotional. Stimulation and excitement through its means, notably for patriotic and warlike purposes, have always been valuable and possibly could be used to tone up unhealthy minds. But many mental cases fluctuate from depression to extreme exaltation. It would probably be dangerous to stir them up. At the symphony recently, a modern, bizarre selection moved one of my fellow-practitioners with a lifelong interest in music to remark hat it made him sick. Emetics have occupied a large place in therapeutics, but I doubt if any one would advocate music for this same purpose.
At the State Hospital for Mental Diseases at Howard, Rhode Island, a quarter century ago, Dr. Arthur H. Harrington, a psychiatrist of high standing and long a lover of music, was superintendent. A thousand patients ate in the dining hall and it can be understood that disturbances at mealtime were not uncommon. Dr. Harrington started a drive which produced a ten-thousand-dollar pipe organ; he trained a choir of fifty patients who led the singing; and the music at meals was acknowledged to have such a wonderfully quieting effect that it became famous.
One more good word for the emotions. Dr. Paul Dudley White, who has devoted his life to the study of the heart, approves of the modern emphasis of the psyche over the soma — the effect of the mind on the heart. Nervousness increases the pulse rate. I have pointed out that just taking the blood pressure is likely to increase it. In the past much heart trouble was iatrogenic, a big and up-to-the-minute word that simply means that doctors caused it. The physician hears a heart murmur. He takes an electro-cardiogram and sees a change in the T wave, or some other alphabetical undulation. He then with a low voice and sympathetic manner tells the unfortunate of these matters and instructs him never to climb stairs again and suggests that from now on he must be a semi-invalid. A valetudinarian has been developed, a terrible word signifying a miserable condition. That sort of thing is getting less common. Nowadays we take a cheerful attitude and try to instill confidence, rather allowing the patient to do what he can comfortably, with some moderation. Nervous worry can be as bad as physical strain. The patient who has courage, optimism, and cheerfulness will do the best.
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GENERAL HEALTH

TURNING OFF DRUG ABUSE: TREATING THE HEROIN ADDICT

Thursday, June 3rd, 2010

Few proven treatment programs for heavy drug dependency are available, except these for heroin addiction:
• Methadone maintenance. Addicts take methadone, a heroin-like synthetic, which reduces craving for heroin.
• Residential community. Heroin users live together in a support-group setting and work toward freeing each other from heroin addiction.
• Drug-free outpatient. Addicts report regularly to a clinic for counseling.
An analysis of these treatments by researchers at Texas Christian University and Texas A&M University reveals that, in each of the programs, many addicts drop their habits, keep out of trouble, and find paying jobs.
Methadone does carry a risk. In 1 year, out of 95,000 methadone patients nationwide, 350 died. This figure is far lower than the risk of death from overdose and disease outside the program.
Few studies show that drug treatment programs can achieve similar results for cocaine and multiple-drug abusers, although residential treatment does seem to work the best.
John, 31, a heavy user of cocaine and heroin (with alcohol, LSD, amphetamines), entered Phoenix House. After a year of daily meetings with other drug abusers and learning how to build a positive self-image and curtail his destructive behavior, John is ready to leave Phoenix House, drug-free. The chances of his going back to drug abuse are high.
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GENERAL HEALTH

CHILD’S HEALTH/SKIN DISORDERS: ACNE

Thursday, May 21st, 2009

Acne (also known as pimples or acne vulgaris) is most common during the teenage years. Most teenagers will have acne at some stage. Its usual onset is at puberty, and it can occasionally continue on into the twenties. It can range from a very mild case of pimples for a few weeks, to ongoing severe cystic acne, which can leave permanent scars if not treated adequately.

Cause

Acne is caused by the overactivity of oil-producing glands (sebaceous glands) in the skin. With the secretion of too much oil, these glands become blocked, and the subsequent accumulation of oil leads to the formation of pimples, blackheads and whiteheads. The greatest influence on the development of acne are hormonal changes during puberty and adolescence. Contrary to popular belief, there is no evidence that certain foods cause acne or make it worse. It also has nothing to do with hygiene, although good skin care can help avoid aggravation of the condition.

Clinical features

Acne most commonly affects the face, chest and back. In particular it can affect the brow, the nose and the chin. The pimples initially appear as red lumps under the skin, which soon form a head. Sometimes when the secreted oils reach the surface of the skin, the contact with air turns the pimples black, forming blackheads. In more severe cases cysts, filled with a cheesy material (sebum or oil) may appear, and become quite large and unsightly.

There are a few basic measures which can improve most cases of acne:

1. Wash the skin gently twice a day, morning and evening, with a mild soap. Do not use medicated soap, as this can be too harsh on the skin. Make sure the skin does not become too dry from overwashing. Do not scrub the skin.

2. Wash hair daily with a mild shampoo, and tie it back if it covers the face, or rubs against the neck. Do not apply greasy hair gels.

3. Encourage your teenager not to squeeze pimples or pick at his skin. As tempting as this may be, it can lead to permanent scarring, which is unsightly.

4. Do not cover pimples with makeup. This can aggravate the condition by blocking off the oil glands.

In addition, your doctor may recommend certain specific treatments, depending on the severity of the acne. These may include lotions or creams containing benzoyl peroxide, which helps to destroy bacteria. Sometimes antibiotics taken in small doses for several weeks may be helpful. In very severe cases of acne, a skin specialist may recommend the use of retinoic acid. Whatever the treatment, your teenager will need to have patience. Acne may take weeks or even months to clear up, and very often recurs periodically — a fluctuating pattern of severity is very common.

When to see your doctor

• if despite the above simple measures, the acne does not improve after 4-6 weeks;

• there are boils or cysts present;

• your teenager is distressed by the appearance of his skin and needs some reassurance that something can be done about it.

Prevention

Acne cannot be prevented. Attention to skin care as described above and a healthy, balanced diet may minimise the severity.

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SENIOR CITIZEN SEX EDUCATION: HOW DO DRUGS AFFECT ON OUT SEXUAL LIFE?

Monday, May 18th, 2009

“Don’t a lot of these drugs we are taking knock out our sex life?”

Anything we do can affect our sex life, and that certainly includes whatever drugs we take. It’s important to ask your doctor at least three questions about drugs. First and foremost: “Is this drug necessary?” Necessary, lifemaintaining drugs make up less than 10 percent of prescriptions written every year. Second, ask “Are these painkillers or sedatives necessary?” These drugs can have real affect on sexuality and usually do not deal with the health problem you are trying to solve. Finally, ask if better health habits such as regulating weight, exercising in moderation, and avoiding junk foods can reduce the need for some drugs prescribed by your doctor. You might also ask about the dosage and time of day you take drugs, because that can affect how the drug works and what the drug might do to your sexuality.

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YOUR MARITAL HEALTH/WIVES’ SEXUALITY: IS YOUR WIFE’S TYPE THE MADONNA?

Monday, May 18th, 2009

I was raised to be special, I mean that sex was special If he wanted a tramp, he should have married one.

WIFE

This wife assumes her husband’s projected image of her and becomes the pure, motherly, sisterly person in her husband’s life rather than his equal partner. This wife feels elevated to a pedestal, lonely and on display. She senses that her husband sees other women as more sexual and sees her as a “nice woman.” She adjusts by either filling the madonna role even more or tries, usually in vain, to compete with the vague image of a “loose” woman. Both attempts fail because she is neither. She struggles unsuccessfully to find her lost sexual identity because she is looking for it through her husband’s eyes rather than her own. Her love map is being drawn for her. The madonna/whore and lover/playboy dichotomies play themselves out in male/female sexual interaction. They are extreme routes on the love maps formed in a punitive, hypocritical society. They are labels that hamper the development of adult sexual maturity.

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THE DESEXUALIZATION OF THE AMERICAN MARRIAGE/WAY TO LEAVE YOUR LOVING: THE PRIORITY PROBLEM – CHOICES AND LISTS

Monday, May 18th, 2009

Super Marital Sex Rule: The marriage comes first. All other people and events come after the marriage. Children, parents, work, and play all benefit most by marital priority instead of marital sacrifice, because the marriage is the central unit to all other processes. The stronger the basic unit, the stronger the rest of the system. Super marital sex allows super growth of all elements related to the marriage.

I’d say we spend about ten minutes together alone per day. When we finally get in bed for the night, we are too tired to do much that takes too much time or effort. There is too much taken out of us to have anything left to put into us.

HUSBAND

If it is true that we reap what we sow, then marriages are in big trouble, for we sow very little into our relationships proportionate to what we put into our jobs and other activities. If we put as much time in our working as we allow for our loving, we would end up unemployed or bankrupt. We raise our children, go to work and work hard, help our parents, maintain our cars, paint and clean our homes, but American marriage is similar to a neglected child, a child expected somehow to take care of her- or himself. Marriage in America is underfed. We seem to be searching for intimacy, but the harvest is meager for lack of planting and nurturing.

Take the following mini-test that I gave to the thousand couples and you will see what I mean by the priority problem.

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OSTEOPOROSIS – LOSS OF CALCIUM

Friday, May 15th, 2009

Prolonged disuse of bones from immobilisation in bed may lead to an increased loss of calcium from the bones, and so they become thinner and more fragile.

Elderly women may sustain fractures of bones from even simple injuries. A common fracture in women is a break in the radius, the major bone of the forearm. A fracture of this bone, just above the wrist, is called a Colles’ fracture.

A fall may result in a fracture of the neck of the femur or thigh bone. This can occur in both elderly men and women, but is far commoner in women. Crush fractures of the vertebral bodies of the spine are not uncommon in elderly women.

These can follow from carrying heavy weights and one cause is from grandmothers lifting and carrying grandchildren.

Elderly women who carry heavy loads from the supermarket can also suffer a crush fracture of the vertebra, usually affecting the bones of the thoracic or chest spine. These fractures cause considerable pain, but require no specific treatment beyond rest.

The deformity from wedging of a crushed vertebra leads to the prominence of the upper back which has been called the “widow’s hump”.

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COLLAGEN DISEASES – CONCLUSION

Friday, May 15th, 2009

The small and medium-sized arteries are affected and it involves most organs. In half the cases, there is an acute onset with fever, aching in the limbs and abdominal pain.

While this also is thought to be an auto-immune disease, some researchers believe it to be a hypersensitivity reaction to infection, particularly to recent infection with the streptococcus germ. This is the common cause of tonsillitis and the skin disease, impetigo.

Rheumatic fever, which affects the joints and sometimes the heart, and acute nephritis, an inflammation of the kidneys, are believed to be hypersensitivities to the streptococcus.

Cortisone can relieve the acute symptoms of polyarteritis but does not appear to alter the course of the disease.

There are a number of other collagen disorders, perhaps the most important of which is Giant Cell Arteritis.

This is a sub acute inflammation of the larger arteries and the temporal artery which lies in the scalp is the most commonly affected.

This form of collagen disease affects the elderly, usually at around 70. There is often a slow, insidious onset, with fever, tiredness and weight loss. The temporal artery may become thickened, easily felt and tender. While this is the most noticeable feature, many other arteries of the body may also be affected.

Early recognition is important, as the retinal arteries which supply the eyes may be involved and this can impair vision.

Cortisone is most effective in this condition. Early treatment results in settling of the inflammation with relief of symptoms, and can save the sight.

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