March 29, 2013

Homeopathy for teething troubles


The process of cutting new teeth is a major milestone in an infant's life. However, it can sometimes be very stressful for both the baby and the parents. Some babies have little or no discomfort during the teething period, while others have severe pain, swollen gums, excessive salivation, and fussiness. Fever may be present during teething but it is usually mild and does not require any kind of medication. Most babies also experience an upset stomach along with teething, because they put everything into their mouth and chew on it to soothe their inflamed gums. Parents need not be alarmed about minor stomach ailments that accompany teething but need to keep a watch for both respiratory (colds) and stomach infections as teething babies chew on anything they can find. 

Oh yes, teething can be the most stressful time of the infant years! The baby is fussy and miserable and the parents are sleep-deprived and exhausted trying to calm their child. It isn't always easy to find out whether the baby is disturbed by teething, but if you put a clean finger into the baby's mouth and feel the gums, you might find a slight stump of a tooth sprouting from the hardened gums. 

The first teeth usually erupt between 6-10 months, and as early as 4 months or as late as 12 months. Some babies are born with two lower front teeth. The pattern of emerging new teeth is different for each child and has a wide range. 

The typical pattern of appearance of new teeth:

Lower central incisors - 6-10 months
Upper central incisors - 8-12 months
Upper lateral incisors - 9-13 months
Lower lateral incisors - 10-16 months
First molars - 13-19 months
Canines - 16-23 months
Second molars - 23-33 months 


Home remedies for teething


1. Parents can give cold teethers to the baby to soothe the inflamed gums. The soft but firm texture of the teether appeals to the baby during teething.

2. Rub a clean finger around the babies gums or massage the gums lightly. The pressure will surely soothe the irritated gums.

3. Offer an ice cube tied in a clean handkerchief and let baby suck on it. The ice will numb the gums and relieve pain temporarily.

4. Offer a frozen carrot so baby can chew on it. The hard texture and coldness will soothe the gums. Be careful with offering food though, always watch your baby to prevent choking, or use a mesh bag like this one on Amazon. It is usually safe to give frozen carrots because baby's gums are still not strong enough to bite through it; however, if your child has both the upper and lower incisors, avoid this completely.

5. Similar to the previous two tips, another tip is to offer a cold or frozen washcloth for baby to chew on. The washcloth is a safe bet because baby can't bite it off (as long as there are no loose threads!).

6. Additionally, if your baby has an upset stomach, give her light food that is easily digested.


Homeopathic remedies for teething


1. Chamomilla: The baby is very irritable and cannot be consoled; wants to be rocked or carried all the time; wants different things but rejects them when they are offered. The child is angry with unbearable pain and may hit or scream. Greenish diarrhea accompanies teething troubles. It is usually the specific remedy for teething, but some babies may need another remedy if Chamomilla does not help.


2. Aconite: Teething distress accompanied by fear or anxiety. 

3. Belladonna: The child has a flushed face with one cheek red and the other pale. The head is hot and fever may be present. The baby is restless and sleepless. Baby may cry out or scream while asleep.

4. Kreosotum: This remedy is indicated when there is caries of the milk teeth; teeth decay soon after they appear.

5. Magnesium phos: Tooth pain relieved by pressing on the gums and by warmth. The baby might like to drink warm fluids or chew on a warm teether.

6. Pulsatilla: The Pulsatilla baby is weepy and clingy from the tooth pain and wants to be constantly cuddled and soothed. Yellowish diarrhea may accompany teething. The baby is better in open air and from cold food or drinks; worse from warm foods.

Other remedies like Calcarea carb, Calcarea phos, Coffea, Mercurius, Silicea may also be indicated based on the symptoms.

Dosage varies depending on the severity of the trouble and the age of the baby. The correct remedy and its dosage needs to be determined by a homeopath. So if your baby is prone to teething pains, do contact a homeopath near you!

 
Image: Hello Bee

                                 

March 27, 2013

Links for Homeopathy

USA

National Center for Homeopathy - A non-profit organization for the progress of homeopathy in USA.
http://nationalcenterforhomeopathy.org/

Homeopathic Directory - An online directory of all homeopaths who are certified from one of the leading certifying bodies in USA.
http://www.homeopathicdirectory.com

North American Society of Homeopaths - Promoting and supporting homeopathy in North America
http://www.homeopathy.org/

The American Medical College of Homeopathy, Arizona
http://www.amcofh.org/

ABC Homeopathy - Online remedy store
http://www.abchomeopathy.com

Homeopathic Pharmacopeia of the United States - The HPUS is the handbook of homeopathic drugs as recognized by the Federal Food and Drugs administration.
http://www.hpus.com/

The American Institute of Homeopathy - An organization of MDs, DOs, dentists, advanced pratice nurses, and physician assistants who practice and promote homeopathy.
http://www.homeopathyusa.org/

India

Prasanta Banerji Homoeopathic Research Foundation, Kolkata - Website of Dr. Banerji, who is well-known for his treatment and research on cancer, using homoeopathy.
http://www.pbhrfindia.org/

Central Council of Homoeopathy - The government organization that grants recognition of homoeopathic medical institutions in India and maintains registries of homoeopathic physicians.
http://www.cchindia.com/

Central Council for Research in Homoeopathy - The government homoeopathic research organization
http://www.ccrhindia.org/index.asp

Homoeopathic Pharmacopoeia Laboratory - The government body that standardizes manufacturing and testing of homoeopathic medicines in India
http://hplism.nic.in/index.htm

Indian Homoeopathic Medical Association - A national platform of Indian homoeopaths
http://www.ihma.in/
 

UK

The British Homeopathic Association - Promotes homeopathy in the UK. 
http://www.britishhomeopathic.org/

Homeopathy Heals Me - A campaign in the UK to raise awareness about homeopathy.
http://www.homeopathyheals.me.uk/site/

Interhomeopathy - An internet journal on homeopathy
http://www.interhomeopathy.org/

A database of Plant and Fungi in Homeopathy -  from the London Natural History Museum
http://www.nhm.ac.uk/

March 25, 2013

Lactation - Diet and supplements

Someone close to me requested that I write about suggestions for diet and supplements during lactation, so that's our topic for today!

The nutritional content of a woman's diet is closely monitored during pregnancy, and well into lactation, because whatever the mother eats is passed on to her child. Therefore, it is important to consume a diet adequate in proteins, healthy fats, complex carbohydrates, essential vitamins and minerals, as well as fiber. It is also very important to remember that if you don't meet the nutritional requirements for both yourself and baby, your body will draw from its reserves and pass them on to the baby. This is nature's law. A balanced diet is very essential for the continued health of the mother as well as her baby.

Below is a brief list of some foods containing the above-mentioned nutrients that can be included in a vegetarian diet. This is a general list of foods. Some diets restrict the consumption of some foods during the period of lactation. Follow a diet of your preference, while making it balanced with all the nutrients.

  • Protein - All beans and lentils. Chickpeas, eggs, fermented soy products (tempeh and miso - they contain enzymes and are easier to digest), quinoa, nutritional yeast, milk and dairy products like yogurt and cheese. Try not to get your protein from artificial sources like protein shakes. They are highly processed and contribute to digestive problems and kidney disorders.
  • Healthy fats -  All nuts and seeds. Sometimes it is advised to avoid peanut or cashew nut to prevent nut allergies; however, all seeds can be freely consumed. Flax, chia, sesame, sunflower, pumpkin seeds are great snacks or can be used to make dips. Walnuts and almonds are additionally good sources of proteins and minerals.
  • Complex carbohydrates - Complex carbohydrates are more slowly digested than simple carbohydrates, providing a steady source of energy and maintaining blood sugar levels. They also contain more vitamins and minerals than simple carbs. All whole grains can be included in this list - oats, brown rice, barley, ragi, jowar, wheat - as well as many vegetables.
  • Vitamins and minerals - All fruits and vegetables. Apart from the regular Indian fruits and vegetables, try including locally available foods in your diet so that you get your nutrients from a variety of foods. To name a few:
  • Broccoli (Vitamin B complex)
  • Purslane (iron)
  • Mushrooms (potassium)
  • Prunes (vitamin C and fiber)
  • Different types of squash (beta-carotene, vitamins B and C)
  • Bean sprouts (protein, vitamins B and C)
  • Bok choy (vitamins C and K)
  • Asparagus (vitamins C and A)
  • Brussel sprouts (vitamin K)
  • Kale (calcium)

Oatmeal
With regard to lactation supplements, I have listed all the foods and supplements that help in lactation. These are a compilation of tips and advice from friends and family, and I hope it will help anyone who is looking for guidance. Apart from optimum rest and sleep (That's a tough one, isn't it!), it is important to stay stress-free. Also, continue taking a multivitamin supplement.


  • Take 3 - 4 cups of milk and 6 - 8 glasses of water per day.
  • Fenugreek seeds - Soak in warm water and take 1 tablespoon 3 times a day with meals. 
  • Fenugreek leaves (methi), drumstick (moringa) leaves, dill leaves, and raw papaya, can be all be cooked into dry curries (subzi).
  • Garlic - Cook 5-10 cloves with milk and consume the milk along with the garlic. Or, saute crushed cloves in ghee or butter and eat with meals.
  • Poppy seeds (khus khus) - Roast the seeds, crush and cook with milk. Add jaggery to taste.
  • Oatmeal porridge
  • Yellow moong dal (pesarapappu in Telugu) - use in dals, soups, desserts
  • Bottlegourd and ridgegourd - Use in curries
  • Tapioca pearls (sabudana) - Use in halwa or khichdi
  • Dill seeds, cumin seeds, fennel seeds - Soaked in water (separately) for 1 hour and boiled in the same water. Cool and drink along with the seeds.
  • Supplements - Mother's milk tea, fenugreek tablets, Shatavari (ayurvedic), Lactare (herbal) tablets.

Remember that the period of pregnancy and breastfeeding is a special one for both the mother and the baby. Do whatever makes you and your baby comfortable. You might need to change your diet depending on what the baby likes or digests better. There is no one-size-fits-all plan. Make your own plan to suit your self and your baby as best as you can! If you need help, don't hesitate to contact your hospital's lactation consultant or the La Leche League.


Additional information on breast feeding:


  1. Kellymom website
  2. 'Making more milk' book - Highly recommended by a good friend as the 'Bible of breastfeeding'



                              


March 22, 2013

How to improve your immunity

The immune system is a complex network. In spite of the many medical and technological advances of modern medicine, researchers have still not completely understood how the immune system works. However, to prove the existence or efficiency of something, scientific evidence from a laboratory is not really necessary. If you follow my blog, you must know by now that homeopathy emphasizes that health is a harmonious balance of vital energy.

Here are some things you can do to maintain the vital force in a balance and keep your immunity high.
  

  • Ditch the antibacterials! Old fashioned hand-washing 3-4 times a day with regular soap and warm water is good enough to keep harmful germs at bay. The small population of bacteria that survives the onslaught of antibacterial products morphs into antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which is extremely difficult to overcome. This is a major problem in the sterile environments of today's hospitals and laboratories, and even in schools and child care centers that are frequently sterilized with antibacterial products. At least keep these out of your own home.

  • Get dirty! Go outdoors, enjoy nature, hike, bike, have a picnic, plant a few trees, make some sand castles and mud pies. Let the kids play in the dirt as soon as they can, and take them to farms or petting zoos to play with the animals. Frequent exposure to germs for small periods of time is good for their developing bodies. All these activities expose our bodies to small amounts of germs that stimulate our immune systems to work better. 

  • Eat whole foods! We all know the importance of a healthy balanced diet. Additionally, considering the present agricultural and environmental circumstances, it is equally important to reduce the consumption of highly refined and processed foods, as well as pesticides and genetically modified foods as far as possible. I have already explained the effects of food dyes and additives in a previous post.

  • Go fragrance-free! What is life without stopping to smell the roses? Roses are fine, but artificial fragrances are not. Artificial fragrances today are made from chemicals which are known to cause hormonal changes, allergies, asthma, eczema, and even cancer. We cannot avoid exposure to some artificial fragrances in the forms of daily use products, but we can reduce it considerably. It is essential is to reduce the usage of artificial fragrances on a regular basis, in the form of air fresheners, everyday perfumes, laundry detergents, fabric softeners, dryer sheets, cleaning products, toiletries like soap, shampoo and body wash.

  • Up the vitamin C! Vitamin C is the healing vitamin. Its antioxidant properties prevent damage to cells from environmental stress and toxins. It is antibacterial, antiviral, anti-aging, and relatively harmless to humans! Do you know why you crave for sour foods when you're sick? That's because your body is asking you to increase your vitamin C intake so that it can heal itself! An adult may take 1000-1500 mg per day. Reduce that dosage to half in children 2 - 10 years old. The next time you feel a cold coming on, reach for some vitamin C instead of the OTC drugs and feel the difference!

  • Use Homeopathy for your whole family! Homeopathy works with your immune system, stimulating it to fight for itself. Conventional medical drugs work against it or act on its behalf, weakening it so that it cannot act on its own. Long term use of homeopathic remedies will improve your immunity; whereas the long term use of conventional medicines will weaken it.

  • Finally, a few things we all know but still need to be reminded once in a while. Stay active, exercise both your body and your brain, manage stress well, do not smoke and limit alcohol consumption.

Take your health into your own hands because you are the only one responsible for it. Follow these simple and effective rules and your immune system will surely thank you! Stay healthy!



                                    


March 20, 2013

The Rise and Rise of Immune System Disorders

When popular Indian detergent brand Surf Excel launched a new ad campaign called 'Daag achche hain', meaning 'Stains are good' in Hindi, the whole country took notice of the new concept. Hindustan Unilever, manufacturer of Surf Excel, used children in their ad to portray the idea, because children bring home the most stains. The ad caught people's attention as it promoted a completely different concept about what is conventionally believed to be dirty - stains. 

The ad shows a boy and a girl walking on a muddy path. When the girl falls into a puddle, the boy jumps into the puddle himself, hits it, and demands that it apologize to his sister. As they walk away, the boy threatens the puddle to 'never do it again'. The puddle inadvertently helps to develop a stronger bond between the brother and sister.



For the same reasons as everyone around me, I was struck by the novelty of the ad. Over the years, with experience, the concept used in this ad made better sense to me, though for completely different reasons. 

Imagine the little girl in the ad as yourself, the puddle is a minor illness like a cold, and the boy is your immune system. Whenever your body falls into any minor illness, your immune system acts immediately, attacking it with all its strength; and after achieving it's victory, the immune system forms antibodies that will threaten the same virus or bacteria if it tries its antics again. This endeavor results in a stronger bond between you and your immune system. Just as Surf Excel doesn't jump into the picture as soon as stains form on the children's clothes, you don't need conventional pharmaceutical drugs as soon as you feel the sniffles coming on. Let the illness progress, let your immune system do its part. 

Use home remedies or alternative therapies to ease any discomfort due to the illness, and get lots of rest! Under natural conditions, the immune system will triumph and the illness will pass without the need for assistance from drugs. When the immune system is made stronger this way, it will fight minor infections on its own and you don't even see any symptoms most of the time because your naturally-acquired immunity is quietly doing its job.


This scenario changes when pharmaceutical drugs are introduced into the picture. Imagine if the boy in the ad had not acted the way he did, but went and complained to his mother about how his sister managed to get so dirty. One small complaint could change the brother-sister friendship that is based on trust. As a result, the girl would find it very difficult to trust her brother again. 


In the same way, when you take medicines at the first instance of a minor illness, the immune system is not allowed to act; the drugs act on its behalf, sometimes even against it! The immunity is not strengthened, rather, it is weakened by the whole process. The end result is repeated infections, chronic illness, prescription drugs, antibiotics... and when one cycle is over, rinse and repeat over and over again until chronic illness strikes and conventional medicine has nothing substantial to offer!


Here is a simplified outline of the sequence of events.


Minor infection --> pharmaceutical drugs --> depleted immune system --> re-infection --> antibiotics --> impaired immune system --> re-infection --> repeated antibiotics --> chronic illness --> more suppressive drugs like steroids --> immune suppression --> long term high risk illnesses allergies, asthma, high blood pressure, diabetes, thyroiditis --> autoimmune disorders - crohns disease, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis --> more prescription drugs --> ???

Now, the whole premise of this argument lies in the fact that the immune system is healthy to begin with. If it is already damaged, then there is a lot of work to be done to get it back to normal.



Image credit - Jaya Prime/ Flickr CC
How do we know that the immune system is healthy? Simply by letting it act. Let it be exposed to everyday germs and practice its skills; stimulate it. If you have a healthy immune system, you don't need to wipe every grocery store cart with antibacterial wipes or fumigate your home with antibacterial sprays. Don't be afraid of germs, or they will get the better of you one day (we're already on the road to this destination with the creation of drug-resistant microbes). 

The development of immunity begins even before conception, with the health of the parents-to-be. This is why health and a balanced diet during pregnancy are so significant for the health of our future generations. Take care of the new infant but don't become paranoid about germs, and follow this rule as the child grows.

The sole objective of this post is to analyze why immune system disorders are so common in today's children, and no, they are not 'genetic'1 . They are so common that conventional medical doctors and many people consider their presence normal. Homeopaths do not regard the occurrence of colds 4 times a year to be normal, or
even 1 ear infection, infant eczema, or using nebulizers or asthma inhalers. There are better ways to stay healthy than by using pharmaceutical drugs, you just need to seek out the other ways!

In the next post, I will discuss how you can keep your immune system healthy. Watch this space!


1 - I will discuss 'genetic' disorders in another post. 

Update - The effect of genes, heredity, and epigenetics is discussed in this post.

 

Additional Reading

 

1. The Autoimmune Epidemic - It's a long article, but a must read!

2. PBS - A 3:56 minute video on the Hygiene Hypothesis. Watch it!
 

3. National Institutes of Health - The hygiene hypothesis for autoimmune and allergic diseases. "According to the ‘hygiene hypothesis’, the decreasing incidence of infections in western countries and more recently in developing countries is at the origin of the increasing incidence of both autoimmune and allergic diseases."

4.Web MD - What are immune system disorders?
 

 

March 18, 2013

Complementary therapies - An Introduction to Reiki

Reiki is a Japanese method of healing and stress reduction by balancing the chakras, originated by Dr. Mikao Usui. The word Rei-ki means spiritually guided life energy, with 'Ki' denoting the life force or vital force that is referred to in homeopathy and Chinese medicine or prana in Vedic philosophy. 

The basis of Reiki is similar to that of homeopathy - when the vital energy is balanced, there is health; when it is disturbed, there is sickness. In reiki, the vital energy is balanced by inviting the universal energy, that is present all around us, to enter our body and remove any negativity. It is a simple method of healing that anyone can learn and use for themselves or others, including plants and animals. To be able to use reiki healing methods, one has to be initiated or attuned by a reiki master. The attunement will open up the chakras and then the universal energy is able to pass through the chakras. 

The life energy may be disturbed by negative thoughts or feelings, whether conscious or unconscious. This results in blockage of the energy pathways through the body. Reiki therapy opens up these pathways so that positive energy can flow freely. The life energy also makes up the aura that surrounds our physical bodies, and when the aura is affected by negativity in a similar manner, it can also be healed through reiki therapy. 

Other things that are good to know about Reiki:

1. Reiki sessions last for around 45-60 minutes, followup sessions are required to maintain the balance of energy flow. 
2. Reiki is not religious. You don't need to 'believe' in it to receive healing.
3. It does not cause harm to either the healer or the person who is being healed. Reiki energy has the wisdom to go where it is required. The healer is a channel of the universal energy and not the source.
4. Reiki therapy need not involved direct contact. Healers may place their hands a few inches away from the body and distance healing is also possible.
5. Reiki energy is never depleted. Since it is a universal energy, it can be 'harnessed' from anywhere at any time.
6. Reiki can be used to heal all kinds of disorders both minor and major, and psychological issues; however, you don't need to be sick in order to undergo reiki therapy.

Additional reading


Life Positive


Image source Wikimedia Commons

                                                      

March 15, 2013

Homeopathy for Seasonal Allergies

 As cooler winter days give way to warmer weather and spring blooms, it is a good time to step out of the house for long walks or even open doors and windows to let in fresh air. However, if you have spring allergies or hay fever or allergic rhinitis, this can be a very difficult time. 

Homeopathic remedies are very useful in treating seasonal allergies without causing drowsiness or creating drug-dependance, which are the major side-effects of using conventional medicines for this ailment.

The best way to deal with allergies is to consult a homeopathic practitioner for a customized remedy, which is called constitutional therapy in homeopathy. Constitutional therapy stimulates your immune system and reduces the incidence of allergies over the long term, allowing the body to heal itself so that you are finally rid of allergy symptoms. However, if your allergies have progressed to a severe state, and if you have been taking conventional drugs for a long time to control your symptoms, then it will take a while for your body to wean itself from the bad effects of conventional drugs and get used to homeopathic therapy. Positive results are certainly possible with homeopathic treatment, as long one is patient and continues the regimen as recommended. 


Common symptoms of hay fever
  • Sneezing
  • Itchy and watery eyes
  • Clear watery nasal discharge
  • Redness of face or rashes
  • Mood changes, anger, and irritability
  • Headache
  • Nasal congestion and sinusitis
  • Swelling of nasal turbinates causing nose block
  • Disturbed sleep due to obstructed nostrils
  • Snoring 

Apart from constitutional therapy for long-term healing, there are some remedies which can be used to relieve acute allergy symptoms.

Homeopathic remedies for hay fever

Allium cepa or Red onion
1. Allium cepa: A person needing this remedy will have watery eyes and clear nasal discharge that burns the upper lip. They are worse indoors in a warm room and feel better in open air.

2. Arsenicum album: This is useful for constant sneezing with burning nasal discharge. Feels thirsty frequently. Worse in open air and feels better indoors.

3. Euphrasia: Burning and constant watering of the eyes with profuse nasal discharge. Frontal headache. Worse in sunlight and outdoors, feels better indoors.

4. Nux vomica: Constant sneezing spells soon after waking up in the morning. Nose feels stuffed up, difficulty in breathing through the nose. Nasal obstruction prevents sleep at night. Itching in the throat with post-nasal drip. Irritability and anger. Associated with gastric complaints. Better from rest, warm drinks, and moist weather conditions.

5. Gelsimium: Sudden violent sneezing episodes, dull headache in the back of the head that is worse from sunlight. Soreness of the whole body, tired and fatigued.

6. Natrum mur: Heavy, thick nasal discharge that looks like egg white. Sneezing episodes with throbbing headache. Worse from sun and heat. 

7. Sabadilla: Useful for treating allergy symptoms in people who are very sensitive to smells and cold weather.

8. Histaminum: This is a specific remedy that is given in acute allergic conditions. It acts by reducing the levels of histamine in the body, thereby reducing the allergy symptoms.

There are many other remedies like Arum, Sanguinaria, Dulcamara, Aralea, Pulsatilla that are all useful in seasonal allergies. The correct remedy and dosage should be determined by a homeopath, to suit your symptoms.

Advantages of homeopathic remedies in seasonal allergies

1. They are gentle and do not cause drug dependance. 
Conventional allergy medications cause drug dependance which means that your body gets used to a particular dosage easily and you need to keep increasing the dosage in order to get relief. The more you increase the dosage, the more you become dependent on the drug, causing further side-effects.

    2. Homeopathic remedies do not cause drowsiness so your daily activities are not affected. They are also safe to use in children for this reason.

    Even the non-drowsy allergy medications can cause drowsiness in some people.

    3. Homeopathic remedies are safe to use over a long period according to the recommendations of a homeopath.

    Steroids are sometimes used in the conventional medical treatment of seasonal allergies. Though these are not supposed to be used for more than 3-5 days at a time, due to drug dependance, they are often used for longer periods, resulting in side effects like loss of smell and taste. Also, allergy medications containing decongestants cause hyperactivity in some children. Over the long term, this may be mistaken for ADD or ADHD.

    4. Homeopathic remedies are safe to use for the whole family, including persons who have high blood pressure, in pregnant and nursing women, in infants and little children.

    So now you have better options for troublesome seasonal allergies, you too can look forward to enjoying nature this spring season!


    Please note: It is not my intention to debate the advantages of homeopathy over other systems of medicine through this post; however, it is absolutely imperative that anyone who uses any kind of drug should be aware of any and all possible side-effects, and especially so in the case of children who depend on adults to make informed decisions for their well-being.


    Additional reading

     

    Antihistamines, decongestants, and cold remedies - American Academy of ENT 

    Decongestants: OTC relief

    Common springtime illnesses - Dr. Sears

     

                                                  

    March 13, 2013

    How homeopathic remedies are made - A video animation

    Did you know that most homeopathic remedies cannot be patented? This is because the methods for preparing single remedies are more than two centuries old, and the patent authorities do not consider them as 'new' products. This is one of the reasons why homeopathy is so cost-effective.

    I know a lot of people are curious to know how homeopathic remedies are made. I found an animated Youtube video that explains this simply. This is the basic method by which remedies can be prepared at home too. It certainly takes a lot of patience and effort, but it is not impossible. It is, however, easier to buy a remedy as a liquid in low potency and then create higher potencies at home.


     
    Video courtesy Squiretrelawney 


    Here's another video that shows how remedies are produced commercially. It is a short clipping taken from a documentary film.


                                        Video Courtesy FirstScienceTV


                         
    If you follow me on my Facebook page, then you know that I posted the first video there a few days back. But I wanted to share both the videos together and that is why I created a post for them. I think the videos are really good and they deserve a separate post. I hope they help you understand the process of making homeopathic remedies better!


                               




    March 11, 2013

    Monday Health Tip - Walnut Mint Chutney


    Start the week in a wonderful way, with walnuts!

    Walnuts are considered the king of all nuts. They are higher in nutritious value than peanuts, almonds, or pistachios. They contain essential omega-3 fatty acids in the form alpha linolenic acid (ALA). Omega-3 fatty acids are called essential because they are not produced by the body. The major sources of omega-3 fats are fish oil, walnuts, flax.

    Benefits of omega-3 fatty acids:
    • Reduce the risk of heart disease and blood clots
    • Improve brain health 
    • Essential for growth and development
    • Reduce inflammation throughout your body
    • Reduce the risk of arthritis
    • Improve the symptoms of depression
    • Reduce the risk of diabetes by improving the body's response to insulin
    • Reduce the levels of bad fats (cholesterol and triglycerides) in the blood
    • Reduce the risk of high blood pressure 
    • May improve symptoms of asthma by reducing inflammation and improving lung function 
    • Maintain healthy skin, hair, and nails 
    Research shows that omega-3 fatty acids are better absorbed through food than through supplements. Either way, why do we need supplements when we have so many excuses to include yummy foods like walnuts in our diet?

    And so, when a friend posted this walnut-mint chutney recipe on her blog Spiceroots, I was very excited! As I had all the ingredients on hand, I made the chutney for breakfast right away, adding some of my own ingredients to suit our taste. You can see the original recipe at Spiceroots.com. This is my version below.

    Ingredients

    1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
    1/2 cup fresh mint, coarsely chopped
    1 tsp tamarind paste
    1 tablespoon jaggery (or sugar)
    1 clove garlic
    3 thai/Indian green chillies (use more if you like it spicier)
    salt to taste
    water, as needed, adjust consistency as desired

    Method - Take all the ingredients in a blender and blend to a smooth chutney.

    Tips: 

    1. Sometimes walnuts leave a slightly bitter aftertaste. If that bothers you, roasting the walnuts lightly before adding them to the recipe will help. Be careful not to burn them!
    2. Adding a pinch of sugar (or jaggery) to mint chutneys brings out the minty flavor much better.

    I serve this with traditional Indian breakfasts like idli or dosa, and also use it as a spread in wraps or on bread. Sometimes I also eat it straight from the dish, it's just so yummy! Much thanks to Ansh, who owns Spiceroots, for this recipe! I hope you like it as much as I do!


    Additional reading on walnuts
     

    March 8, 2013

    Happy Women's Day!

    Around the world, many celebrities, royals, and inspirational people have used homeopathy and have supported it both in the past and in the present time. On International Women's Day, let us see which famous women have supported homeopathy.


    Courtesy mrsdkrebs Flickr CC




    Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity provide homeopathic treatment to the poor in Calcutta.








    Courtesy Keith Laverack Flickr CC






     
    It is well-known that the British Royal family uses homeopathy. Queen Elizabeth II carries her homeopathic remedy kit wherever she goes.








    Courtesy IrisDragon Flickr CC




    Florence Nightingale, the founder of  modern nursing, used homeopathy herself. She believed in holistic and natural methods of healing.










    Some Indian women who have used homeopathy - Lata Mangeshkar, Hema Malini, Indira Gandhi, Zoya Akhtar, Neha Bajpai, Shruti Seth.

    Other women around the world in support of homeopathy - Princess Diana, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Martina Navratilova, Jennifer Aniston, Tina Turner, Priscilla Presley, Lisa Marie Presley, Ashley Judd, Noami Watts, Cindy Crawford, Cher.

    Homeopathy is the most natural healthcare choice for those who have the access to the best medical care, shouldn't it be for you too?



    March 6, 2013

    The Homeopathic Consultation

    Many people ask me for homeopathic remedies for their headache or for colds and coughs. As most people are used to prescription methods of conventional medicine, it is expected that the homeopath also suggest a remedy for their ailment immediately after hearing a diagnosis. 

    However, this is far from what a homeopath needs to arrive at a remedy. There is a lot of confusion about what kind of information a homeopath needs and why they need it. Here are the hows and whys of the homeopathic consultation.

    As we have seen in this post - How to choose a homeopath - the first consultation is usually 30-45 minutes for an acute case and 1-1/2 to 2 hours for a chronic case. 

    What is an acute case? Acute diseases are those that come on suddenly, progress rapidly, and then the patient gets better within a few days. Colds, coughs, stomach upsets are all acute diseases. Injuries like falls, fractures, sprains, burns also come under acute care. For these kinds of ailments, the homeopath will want to know how the symptoms first started, and they will try to determine a cause for the disease. 

    Now, in conventional medicine, the cause is always attributed to some microorganism like a bacteria or virus. However, in homeopathic philosophy, the cause is usually a weakness of the body's inherent energy (prana in ayurveda, chi in oriental medicine) during which time the bacteria or virus is able to multiply to such an extent that the body's natural immune system is unable to fight it. The homeopath will try to determine why the body's vital energy was low in the first place. They will do this by asking questions like what kind of food you ate before the symptoms started, or if you were under any kind of stress, or if you were exposed to bad weather conditions, etc. 

    Further, if your complaint is headache or similar pain, they will ask you to describe in which area you feel the pain most, and to elaborate on the type of pain (some headaches are throbbing, some just have a dull pain all over the head, etc.). They will ask you what makes your pain worse and what makes it better. To answer these questions, the client or patient needs to be in tune with their sensations. For children, the homeopath will ask appropriate questions that will help them customize a remedy for the child.

    Next, what is a chronic ailment? All diseases that are long-lasting and that do not get better without appropriate therapy are called chronic diseases. High blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, asthma, allergies are all examples of chronic ailments. Even headaches and colds and coughs can become chronic ailments if they last for longer than 6 months. The homeopath needs a lot more information in these cases, so don't be surprised if there are questions about your nature, emotions, dreams, food intolerance etc. 

    Whether acute or chronic, the goal of the homeopath is to customize a remedy for you as an individual, based on all the information that you provide. The remedy that works for you may not work for another person, because no two people are alike. Even identical twins who share a lot of genes have their own individual tastes and habits.

    The homeopathic consultation really helps you understand your body and why it behaves in a certain manner, and also needs you to be in touch with the symptoms that are unique to you, so you can relate them accurately to your homeopath. You are given a homeopathic remedy mostly based on the information that you provide, and an accurately customized remedy can work wonders.

    Now you know why the homeopath always has so many questions for you and listens keenly to everything you have to say before suggesting a remedy! So the next time you see a homeopath, you can be ready with all the data you can provide :)

    Image courtesy @boetter Creative Commons

    March 4, 2013

    Monday's health tip - Food additives

    I've written a lot about remedies and complementary therapies lately. On this weeks Monday Health Tip, I wanted to break that cycle and talk about something else for a change. So I'll start with one thing related to diet that really concerns me - food additives, specifically artificial colors and flavors.

    Anyone who loves good food knows that presentation is just as important as the taste when it comes to the dining experience. After all, we eat with our eyes first! Would you buy a Coke that is not brown, or Goldfish crackers that are only a dull yellow? We are so used to seeing food products of a certain color that we look with uncertainty if they are any different from 'normal'. 

    Think about it - artificial colors and flavors are everywhere. Starting with the toothpaste you put into your mouth first thing in the morning, to your breakfast cereal, boxed mac and cheese, yogurt, salad dressings, soda, energy drinks, sauces and seasonings, bottled beverages like coffee and tea and Nesquik, cosmetics, and even vitamins and medicines. I doubt you'll find any product devoid of artificial colors and flavors if you look at the snacks and treats that are generally marketed to kids. Did you know that it takes a number of ingredients to produce that artificial strawberry flavor that is commonly added to yogurts and ice-creams?




    Adding color and flavor to food makes it more appealing, but is it safe? There is an ongoing debate whether artificial colors cause ADHD and other attention-deficit disorders in children.The FDA says artificial colors and flavors are absolutely safe because they are synthesized in a lab under controlled situations, and that they are safer than natural colors and flavors. 

    So why the concern about these food additives? It is because little children are very vulnerable as their organ systems are not fully developed and their excretory mechanism is immature; therefore, they cannot detoxify their bodies appropriately. With the majority of the processed food market targeted at kids, we need to think twice about offering foods that contain artificial colors and flavors, especially since even the most innocent looking foods contain these additives. 

    What is the alternative? It is nearly impossible to escape from food additives in today's world, but moderation is the key - which means, if you can avoid it, then you don't really need it. We need to be conscious of what we eat. 

    The later children are exposed to food additives, the better. It is good to avoid processed foods completely for the first two years unless absolutely necessary. There are always homemade alternatives which are fresher and tastier and you can include ingredients to suit your requirements (not to mention the satisfaction you get from making something from scratch in your own kitchen!) Finally, have a look at this list of safe and unsafe food additives


     

    Additional reading

     

    The Feingold program is used to see if any of the food additives are the cause of a person's ADHD, through an elimination diet. Lots of information here! 

    A Lancet study - Food additives and hyperactive behavior in 3- and 8/9-year-olds

    An article in Forbes

    WebMD - Food dye and ADHD

    FDA - Food ingredients and colors

    FDA - List of foods considered Generally Regarded as Safe (GRAS) that do not require labeling - Jump to Lists 4, 5, and 6 for food additives that are exempt from labeling.

    British Medical Journal - The effects of artificial food color and benzoate preservative in preschool kids - A double-blind placebo-controlled study


    March 2, 2013

    Bach flower remedies - An update

    I recently updated the post on Bach flower remedies and included dosage instructions after I received a question from a reader of this blog. Sorry readers, I shouldn't have missed writing about it! 

    Please leave your comments and feedback on the blog, including any questions about my posts. It will only help me include more information that will be available for everyone to see. So don't be shy! :) You can even comment anonymously if you wish to.

    If you don't see the comment form below the post, you can leave your comments or feedback by clicking on the 'Post a comment' link at the end of the post.

    Here's a link to the updated article on Bach flower remedies.


    March 1, 2013

    Homeopathy in pregnancy and childbirth - Part 3

    This is the last post in the series on Homeopathy in Pregnancy and Childbirth. We will see how homeopathy can be used in different conditions that may arise with the process of childbirth and the postpartum period.

    Itching all over the body is a common and annoying symptom in the last stages of pregnancy. Using a heavy moisturizer or oil helps to some extent. Moisturizing is also important to prevent rashes from stretch marks. 

    For itching without any other cause: Dolichos, Tabacum

    Varicose veins: Calcarea flour, Acid flour, Carbo vegetabilis, Hamamelis, Vipera



    Caulophyllum

    If labor is:

    Slow and delayed: Caulophyllum, Cimicifuga, Gelsimium
    Violent and too fast: Aconite
    Accompanied by severe back pain: Kali carb

    Postpartum:

    Hemorrhage: Secale corn, Phosphorus

    Depression: Pulsatilla, Natrum mur, Sepia

    Soreness: Arnica, Bellis perennis, Hypericum

    Episiotomy: Calendula tincture can be applied externally. Mix 10 drops in 4 tablespoons water, soak a cotton gauze pad in the solution and apply to perineum. This can be repeated several times a day for up to a month.

    After cesarean, to promote healing: Arnica, Staphysagria, Hypericum, Calendula tincture

    Bach Rescue remedy is also recommended to take as often as needed, to relieve stress. 


    It is always recommended that a woman take up a detailed consultation with a homeopath in the early stages of pregnancy or prior to conception so that her constitutional remedy can be evaluated. Constitutional remedies are customized to the individual's needs and it is the best kind of homeopathic therapy for many chronic illnesses. The remedies included in this post are just a guideline for what can be used. It is not recommended to take remedies on your own without the guidance of someone who is trained in homeopathy.

    On a similar note, I would like to suggest to every woman to make informed choices about any and all medical interventions during her pregnancy. Use the services of a midwife or doula if one is available near you. Ask your doctor if external cephalic version is possible if the baby is not in a head-down position, before considering a cesarean section. This is not about whether medical interventions are good or bad, but whether a procedure is right for YOU. You are an unique individual, and what is right for someone else may not be right for you. Assess the risks and benefits of every procedure that is offered to you and make a decision based your judgment.

    'The future depends on what we do in the present.' - Mahatma Gandhi 

    Image courtesy H. Zell Creative Commons