New AIDS vaccine Scientists thrilled with results

         An AIDS vaccine, developed by scientists in Sweden, has produced surprisingly good results.  More than 90 per cent of subjects in phase 1 trials of the vaccine developed an immune response to HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, say scientists from the Karolinska Institute, the Karolinska University Hospital and the Sweish Institute for Infectious Disease Control (SMI).

            "Never has such a good result been seen with a vaccine of this type," says Eric Sandstrom, chief physician at the Karolinska University Hospital.  The vaccine can protect against many of the circulating HIV types in Africa and the West.

Scientists now hope to follow up the Swedish study with a larger phase 1 -phase 2 study in Tanzania. Their aim will be to corroborate the Swedish results on African subjects and to help train Tanzanians to carry out parts of the study, including sophisticated laboratory examinations, on site.

October 15, 2023 Down to Earth

Crushing pills could have deadly effect

        Crushing tablets can make them easier to swallow but it can have a serious, even potentially fatal, effect on your health.
            According to experts, over 80 % of people have the habit of crushing tablets to help patients, especially children and the elderly, take their medicines.  But doctors say the trend is dangerous.  Not only does crushing pills alter the effect of the drug, it can also affect the way the drug is released or absorbed, possibly causing serious side-effects.

            Several pills have special protective coating that ensures the drug does not touch the inner walls of the stomach but directly passes into the intestine after being swallowed. Crushing these pills heighten chances of gastric injury leading to bleeding from the intestine.   

            Experts also warn that some drugs, including the anti-diabetic drug Metfromin, are meant for sustained release, spread over 24 hours.  Crushing them would result in limiting their long-lasting action, putting the patient at risk.

            Drug expert Dr. C M Gulati said, "A tablet isn't just made of the drug. It contains both binding agents and other chemicals. The drug is also not uniformly spread across the tablet.  Therefore a patient would rarely know whether both halves have equal amount of the drug.  Also, most patients who crush the tablet mix it with juice or milk. This could result in interaction between the drug and liquid. There are several drugs that aren’t  scored (lined from the centre). These drugs should

not be crushed at all. It’s a misconception that breaking a tablet lowers its strength.” Pills which are taken once a day have a special coating which makes the release into the body slow and constant during the 24 hour period. Crushing could give the patient too much at first, and then nothing for the second half of the day.

December 2006, Health Action 

Rise up against ‘sitting disease’

        British survey found that more than half of the 3,000 people spent most of their working day sitting. It is discovered a few years ago the average Briton walks half a mile a day-which is not bad, but not great, either. It also showed that average distance walked per year fell from 255 miles in 1975/6 to 186 miles by 2000.

            Through the genius of remote controls, dishwashers, washing machines, electric gadgets, email and internet shopping we’ve engineered physical activity out of our lives almost completely – so much so that some experts estimate that we burn up to 700 fewer calories (kcal) each day than we did just 30 years ago. That adds up to well over 0.45kg (1lb) a week.           

            Consider the energy savings of a single email: if you were to walk across your office building and back to talk to someone instead of spending the same 2 minutes sending an email, you could save nearly 5kg (11lb) over 10 years – and that’s just one email day. Because our modern lives require so little physical effort, exercise  tends  to  be a leisure-time activity-walking, gardening or sports-but, according to an NHS survey, 17 per cent of us do none of these physical activities. And 44 per cent of us spend more than 4½   hours a day sitting.

            In recent years the levels of walking and cycling have fallen by 26 per cent. 34 to 37 per cent of us have high blood pressure; and that a quarter of all deaths each year are from illnesses linked to sedentary living.

 2005, 30 Minutes a day to a healthy heart

Intelligent children more likely to become vegetarian

       Recent evidence suggests that intelligent children may be more likely to be vegetarian as adults. Vegetarianism may be linked to lower cholesterol levels and a reduced risk of obesity and heart disease. This might help to explain why children who score higher on intelligence tests tend to have a lower risk of coronary heart disease in later life.

            The study involved 8179 men and women aged 30 years whose IQ was tested at age 10 years. Twenty years later, 366 (4.5%) of participants said they were vegetarian. Of these, 9 (2.5%) were vegan and 123 (33.6%) stated they were vegetarian but reported eating fish or chicken. Vegetarians were more likely to be female, to be of higher occupational social class and to have higher academic or vocational qualifications than non-vegetarians.

            Higher IQ at the age of 10 years was associated with an increased likelihood  of being vegetarian at the age of 30. This  relation  was  partly  accounted  for  by  better  education  and higher  occupational  social  class,  but  it remained statistically significant after adjusting for these factors. There was no difference in IQ score between strict vegetarians and those who said they were vegetarian but who reported eating fish or chicken.

            The finding that children with greater intelligence are more likely to report being vegetarian as adults, together with the evidence on the potential benefits of a vegetarian diet on heart health, may help to explain why higher IQ in childhood or adolescence is linked with a reduced risk of coronary heart disease in adult life, write the authors. Alternatively, the link may be merely an example of many other lifestyle preferences that might be expected to vary with intelligence, but which may or may not have implications for health, they conclude.




Why sleep? Flies tell us why

       Sleep is a mystery. Scientists do not know why we need sleep. Scientists hypothesize that our body require sleep so our brain can process what we have learned during the day.  Scientist Dr. Indrani Ganguly-Fitzgerald used fruit flies  in a series of experiments. She learned that when flies used their brains, they needed more sleep. It starts when flies are very young – they need a lot of sleep like babies – and the need to sleep continues as the flies get older.

            In her experiment, she kept some young flies in a tube. They did not sleep much. Some other young flies were put together with older flies in a big jar and they needed a lot of sleep because they had been taking in information from the other flies.  Tests with older flies showed that they needed sleep to, for their brains to process the information they learned during the day. She wanted to know more so she watched flies that were taught a lesson. Afterward the flies slept a lot. Later they did well when they had a test. Some flies were not allowed to sleep much, and they made mistakes on their tests.

            Understanding how sleep works with memory allows researchers to understand diseases in humans and to experiment until they can find medicine or cures for people with memory diseases like Alzheimer's disease and depression. Dr. Ganguly-Fitzgerald's work show to other scientists that flies can be a good method of studying the connection between sleep and memory. "Of all genes known to cause human diseases," she explains, "more than 60 percent are found in the fruit fly."

            Special advice from Dr. Ganguly-Fitzgerald: "For kids, from parents: Sleep now, Play better later. For parents: Let kids play now, they will sleep better later."

Herbal combination proves helpful with heart disease

            It has now been established that more than 60 human diseases involve free-radical damage, including heart disease, cancer, and the acceleration of the aging process. All that you really need to know is that your body is under constant free radical attack, and that you need to keep your antioxidant defenses strong.

            Certain types of bioflavonoids have been found to significantly surpass other known antioxidants in their ability to scavenge free radicals. One group of bioflavonoids, specifically known as proanthocyanidins,  have extraordinary anti-oxidant capabilities. Studies have shown that leucoanthocanins derived from grape seed are practically devoid of any oral toxicity. Even extremely high doses administered over sustained periods of time showed no toxicity or side effects. Grape seed extracted proanthocyanidins have been shown to be safe for conception, pregnant women and the unborn fetus.

            There is enormous potential of grape seed flavonoids to prevent cellular deterioration or uncontrolled growth. Several investigations have shown that if they are taken daily, the benefits for people suffering from cardiovascular diseases and breast tumors is impressive.

            John Folts, director of the Coronary Artery Thrombosis Research and professor of medicine recently conducted a study using a formulation containing grapeseed flavonoids, grape skin, Ginkgo biloba and bilberry extracts. The results showed that this combination was able to reduce platelate activity by about 52%. Because of the powerful antioxidant nature of this composition, it is considered superior to the traditionally used aspirin.




Exercise increases life span, proves study  

            Few studies have been done in support of the popular medical opinion that physical activity reduces occurrence of chronic diseases. Now, a study quantifies the positive effect of physical activity on cardiovascular health.

            A team of scientists from the Erasmus MC University Medical Center in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, analysed data collected by the Framingham heart study on 5,209 residents of Framingham, Massachusetts,  the  US, over  the  past  46 years.

            The Dutch study found life expectancy for sedentary people aged above 50 was 1.5 years less than for people following moderate levels of physical activity and about 3.5 years shorter than for people with high levels of physical activity.

            “The extra years (for those following active lifestyles) will be enjoyed without suffering the deleterious consequences of cardiovascular disease,” says Oscar H Franco, the lead researcher. The study, however, ignored other risk factors of cardiovascular disease such as diet, alcohol consumption and aspirin intake.

December 15, 2005  Down to Earth

When you lose weight, where does it go?

            All fats, whether   solid  or  liquid, exist in chemical form as triglycerides, which consist of a glycerol molecule and three fatty acid chains. Each triglyceride macromolecule's appearance is similar to the letter "E"--with the glycerol being the vertical line and the fatty acids as the three horizontal lines. Many of these triglycerides are stored as droplets of oil within the fat cells that make up the fat tissue located throughout the body. They represent a fuel source to support bodily activities, like gasoline held in a car's fuel tank.

            People who possess large fat cells brimming with triglyceride fuel. When trimming calories and/or increasing exercise during weight loss, the enzyme hormone-sensitive lipase, located within fat cells, responds to hormonal messages and disassembles triglycerides into their component glycerol and fatty acids. These components then slip out of the fat cells and into the bloodstream, where they are accessible to tissues throughout the body. The liver preferentially absorbs the glycerol and some of the fatty acids--the remainder of which is taken in by muscle. Once inside liver or muscle cells, the triglyceride ingredients are further disassembled and modified, eventually resulting in large quantities of a compound called acetyl-CoA. Within the cells' mitochondria--the powerhouses of the cells--the acetyl-CoA combines with the compound oxaloacetate to form citric acid. This synthesis kicks off the citric acid cycle (or Krebs cycle), a set of chemical reactions that creates usable energy from fat, protein and carbohydrates. As these mitochondrial activities unfold, they generate carbon dioxide, water and heat, as well as adenosine triphosphate (ATP), an energy-carrying molecule that fuels cellular activities.

            The carbon dioxide is then expelled from the lungs during exhalation. The water exits the body as urine and perspiration. The heat that is generated helps to maintain body temperature at a comfortable 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. And the ATP powers cellular activities that require energy--from moving your muscles during exercise, to maintaining your heart's 100,000-plus beats each day, to digesting each mouthful of food that you swallow and processing nutrients into bodily tissues.



Fasting for faster healing

           The practice of fasting is one of the most ancient customs and nature's oldest, most  effective  and  yet  least  expensive  method   of  healing  human ailments.  It is assumed to be the cornerstone of natural healing.  As per Dr. Arnolk Eheret, fasting is the nature's only universal and omnipotent remedy of curing and nature’s only basic principle of all healing.

            The degree of success of a fast depends greatly on how it is broken, which is the most important phase. The fundamental features that are to be kept in mind while breaking a fast, are: to eat slowly, to chew properly, not to overeat.

Advantages of fasting:  

·         Fasting affords a physiological rest to the digestive, assimilative and protective organs.  As such, the digestion of food and the utilization of its nutrients are greatly improved after fasting.

·         During a long fast, the body feeds upon its reserves only, it decomposes and burns the diseased, damaged, aged and dead cells and tissues. The useful cells and the vital organs are not spoiled or digested, which is the greatest miracle and secret of the effectiveness of fasting as a curative and rejuvenating method.

·         Fasting imparts a stabilizing, normalizing and rejuvenating effect on all the vital physiological as well as the mental functions.

·         All  the  eliminative  organs  (lungs, kidneys, skin, liver etc.) get toned up and their efficiencies are greatly enhanced.  They become highly active in expelling the old accumulated toxic matter(s) out.

·         Building  of  new  healthy  cells  gets accelerated by the amino acids released from diseased cells.

·         The eliminative organs remain absolutely free from the load of digesting the food and eliminating the resultant wastes, which gives them an opportunity to regain their full power and vitality.  

 October 2006, Nisargopachar Varta 



Red mushroom a cure for ailments

       Chennai Red mushroom, the ancient Chinese secret of health and longevity, is emerging as an elixir of life for many in India suffering from various ailments, including cancer, claim doctors in Tamil Nadu and Kerala. "It is not disease-specific or organ-specific. It is a dietary supplement which corrects the disorders of the body mainly by enhancing immunity and rebuilding lost or damaged cells," says Dr S Ranjan.

            Dr. N. K. Venugopal,  a  medical practitioner, says he has been prescribing products made out of ganoderma for over six years and claimed to have found total cure in about 1,000 patients suffering from various ailments. "The regular intake of ganoderma along with medication has proven that cancer can be cured in early stages," he says.

            Prof K. K. Janardhanan says he was impressed by anti-cancer properties of ganoderma during various studies. He investigated that methanolic extract of ganoderma lucidium, possesses anti-tumour and anti-oxidant activities. He says

“when mice were administered a dose of 500mg of ganoderma per kg of body weight after implanting a tumour, it was found that the tumour load was reduced by 97.7 per cent within 10 days.

            Venugopal has noticed that even in patients in their final stages of cancer, ganodema increases life-expectancy, reduces pain substantially, improved quality of life and reduces the side-effects of chemotherapy and radiation. Apart from building up immunity of the body, the mushroom also has anti-ageing properties, he claimed. 

Keeping kidney stones away

          US researchers have discovered that a glass of orange juice a day can keep the recurrence of kidney stones away. Orange juice can help to prevent the recurrence of kidney stones better than other citrus fruit juices such as lemonade.  Although many people assume that all citrus fruit juices can prevent the formation of kidney stones, if the recurrence of kidney stones has to be medically treated, it requires dietary and lifestyle changes as well as treatment such as the addition of potassium citrate, which has been shown to lower the rate of new stone formation in patients with kidney stones.

            But since some patients can't tolerate potassium citrate because of gastrointestinal side-effect, dietary sources of citrate such as orange juice may be considered as an alternative to pharmacological drugs.

            Researchers found, that Orange juice boosted the levels of citrate in the urine and reduced the crystallization of  uric acid and calcium oxalate - the most frequently found ingredient in kidney stones.  But lemonade did not increase the levels of citrate, an important acid neutralizer and inhibitor of kidney stone formation. 

November 2006, Health Action 



Human Hands Emit Light

        Human hands glow, but fingernails release the most light, according to a recent study that found all parts of the hand emit detectable levels of light. It is suggested that most living things, including plants, release light. Since disease and illness appear to affect the strength and pattern of the glow, the discovery might lead to less-invasive ways of diagnosing patients.

            Mitsuo Hiramatsu, a scientist at the Central Research Laboratory in Japan, who led the research, told that the “hands are not the only parts of the body that shine light by releasing photons, but also the forehead and bottoms of our feet emit photons." The light is invisible to the naked eye, so he and his team used a powerful photon counter to "see"it. The detector found that fingernails release 60 photons, fingers release 40 and the palms are the dimmest of all, with 20 photons measured. Hiramatsu is not certain why fingernails light up more than the other parts of the hand, but he said, "It may be because of the optical window property of fingernails. 

            To find out what might be creating the light in the first place, he and colleague Kimitsugu  Nakamura  had  test  subjects hold plastic bottles full of hot or cold water before their hand photons were measured. The researchers also pumped nitrogen or oxygen gas into the dark box where the individuals placed their hands as they were being analyzed.

            Warm temperatures increased the release of photons, as did the introduction of oxygen. Rubbing mineral oil over the hands also heightened light levels. Based on those results, the scientists theorize the light "is a kind of chemiluminescence," a luminescence based on chemical reactions, such as those that make fireflies glow.

Since mineral oil, which permeates into the skin, heightens the light, they also now think 60 percent of the glow may result from chemical reactions that take place inside the skin.

            Fritz-Albert Popp, a leading world expert on biologically related photons at The International Institute of Biophysics in Germany, agrees with the findings and told,

"One may find clear correlations to kind and degree (type and severity) of diseases."




Cider cures

          An apple a day my keep the doctor and the dentist away, but did you know pure apple cider vinegar is a wonder tonic that can cure host of ailments? It is effectively detoxifies the various organs and the blood stream, breaks down fat, mucous and phelgm deposits in the body, prevents the blood from becoming too thick and gluey and putting a strain on the heart, promotes digestion and neutralises any toxic substance that enters the body. Enriched with potent dose of potassium, apple cider vinegar checks excessive mucous formation, watery eyes, sinus, catarrhal troubles, teeth decay and brittle finger nails. Traditionally used in salad dressings, pickling or as food flavoring, this super seasoning also makes a good caffeine substitute. Apple cider vinegar when combined with honey, and taken diluted in water in varying proportions make an effective remedy for problems like arthiritis, asthma, blood loss, colitis, eczema, food poisoning, hair loss, hemorrhage, high blood pressure and insomia.

December 4, 2006 The Hitavada

Magnesium's Impact on Health and Vitality

          Magnesium is nothing short of a miracle mineral in its healing effect on a wide range of diseases as well as in its ability to rejuvenate the aging body. We know that it is essential for many enzyme reactions, especially  in  regard  to  cellular  energy production, for the health of the brain and nervous system, for healthy teeth and  bones  and  is  also  an  impressive infection fighter. A French doctor, A. Neveu, cured several diphtheria patients with magnesium chloride within two days. He also published 15 cases of poliomyelitis that were cured within days if treatment was started immediately, or within months if paralysis had already progressed. Neveu also found magnesium chloride effective with asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia and emphysema, pharyngitis, tonsillitis, hoarseness, common cold, influenza, whooping cough, measles, rubella, mumps, scarlet fever; poisoning, gastro-enteritis, boils, abscesses, whitlow, infected wounds and osteomyelitis. In more recent years Dr. Vergini and others have confirmed these earlier results and have added more diseases to the list of successful uses: acute asthma attacks, shock, tetanus, herpes zoster, acute and chronic conjunctivitis, optic neuritis, rheumatic diseases, many allergic diseases,

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and beneficial effects in cancer therapy. In all of these cases magnesium chloride had been used and gave much better results than other magnesium compounds 




Edited by Dr. A. M. Mehendale