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Dr K K Aggarwal

Yanmule sarvatirhaani, Yannagre sarvadevataa, 

Yanmadhye sarvavedaascha,Tulasi taam namaamyaham

“I bow to the Tulsi, At whose base are all the holy places, At whose top reside all the deities and In whose middle are all the Vedas.”

The Tulsi or Sacred Basil is one of the most sacred plants. There is a Sanskrit: “Tulanaa naasti athaiva tulsi” that which is incomparable in its qualities is the tulsi. It is the only pooja samagri which can be washed and reused.

Satyabhama once weighed Lord Krishna against all her legendary wealth. The scales did not balance until a last single tulsi leaf was placed along with the wealth on the scale by Rukmini with devotion. Thus, tulsi played the vital role of demonstrating that even a small object offered with devotion is of greater value than all the wealth in the world.

The Tulsi leaf has great medicinal value and is used to cure various ailments, including the common cold. Tulsi seeds are good for male infertility and increase the viscosity of semen and sperm counts. It has detoxifying properties and is used in fasts including the Satynarayana Katha where a thousand tulsi leaves are added to the water for pooja, and which is consumed later by everybody.

Tulsi also symbolizes Goddess Lakshmi. Those who wish to be righteous and have a happy family life worship the tulsi. Tulsi is ‘married’ to Lord Vishnu with pomp and show like any other wedding. This ‘marriage’ is solemnised because according to a legend, the Lord blessed her to be His consort.  Tulsi is worshipped in the months of Magh and Kartik. Tulsi vivah is observed in the month of Kartik and is the symbolic marriage of Lord Vishnu in the form of a shaligram (sacred stone) and Tulsi. It indicates the importance of  Tulsi for fertility. Tulsi pooja is an important component of any marriage.

(Suggestion: give the English equivalent months for magh and kartik)

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Cholesterol tips released

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Blood lipid levels may exhibit mild seasonal variation with a drop in the summer and total cholesterol level peaking in the winter. The variation can be up to 5 mg/dL, said Padma Shri & Dr. BC Roy National Awardee, Dr. KK Aggarwal, President Heart Care Foundation of India & National Vice President Elect IMA.

Serum total and HDL-cholesterol can be measured in fasting or non-fasting individuals. There are only small clinically insignificant differences in these values when measured in the fasting or non-fasting state.

The total cholesterol can vary by 4 to 11 percent within an individual due to multiple factors including stress, minor illness and posture. Values may also vary between different laboratories, with data suggesting that a single measurement of serum cholesterol can vary as much as 14 percent. Therefore in an individual with “true” serum cholesterol concentration of 200 mg/dL the range of expected values is 172 to 228 mg/dL.

More than one measurement of total cholesterol should therefore be obtained when treatment considerations demand a precise determination. Measurement of serum HDL-C and triglycerides may demonstrate even greater variability.

A standard serum lipid profile consists of total cholesterol, triglycerides, and HDL-cholesterol. Lipid profile should be performed after 12 to 14 hours of fasting to minimize the influence of postprandial hyperlipidemia. One can use either plasma or serum specimen. The serum cholesterol is approximately 3 percent lower than the plasma value.

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The vibrations of the ringing bell also produce the auspicious primordial sound ‘Om’, thus creating a connection between the deity and the mind. As we start the daily ritualistic worship (pooja), we ring the bell, chanting:

Aagamaarthamtu devaanaam

gamanaarthamtu rakshasaam

Kurve ghantaaravam tatra

devataahvaahna lakshanam

“I ring this bell indicating the invocation of divinity, So that virtuous and noble forces enter (my home and heart); And the demonic and evil forces From within and without, depart.”

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When it comes to losing weight, cut down on liquid calories rather than food,.

“Weight loss from liquid calories is greater than loss of calorie intake from solid food, as per Dr. Liwei Chen, an assistant professor of epidemiology at the Schoolof Public Healthat the LSU Health Science Center in New Orleans, in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Body is able to self-regulate its intake of solid food. If you eat too much solid food at lunch, you’ll tend to eat less at dinner. But the same self-regulation is not in place for what you drink. The body does not adjust to liquid calories, so over time, you gain more weight.

Cutting back on calories from sugary drinks – by only one serving per day – can account for nearly two-and-a-half pounds of lost weight over 18 months.

Beverages are categorized into eight categories

1. Sugar-sweetened beverages (including soft drinks, fruit drinks, fruit punch, or high-calorie beverages sweetened with sugar)

2. Diet drinks such as diet soda and other diet drinks that were artificially sweetened

3.       Milk (including whole milk, 2 percent milk, and 1 percent skim)

4.       100 percent fruit and vegetable juice

5.       Coffee and tea with sugar

6.       Coffee and tea without sugar

7.       Alcoholic beverages

8.       Water with no calories

The best drinks are water, plain soda and tea/coffee with no sugar.

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We follow a ritual of offering ‘bhog’ to the deity we worship. The ritual also involves sprinkling water all around the place where we sit down to eat food. The sprinkling of water prevents ants and insects from approaching the food, says one school of thought. But in spiritual terms, there is a deeper meaning .

Bhagwad Gita and Yoga Shastras categorise food into three types corresponding to their properties termed as gunas. Depending upon satoguna, rajoguna and tamoguna, the food items are categorized as satvik, rajsik or tamsik.

Satvik food provides calmness, purity and promotes longevity, intelligence, strength, health, happiness and delight. The examples of satvik food items are fruits, vegetables, leaves, grains, cereals, milk, honey, etc. These items can be consumed as they are. One can live on satvik food for life.

Rajsik food items possess attributes of negativity, passion and restlessness. Hot, spicy and salty food items with pungent, sour and salty taste promote rajas qualities.

Tamsik food has attributes of inducing sleep, ignorance, dullness and inertia. The examples of tamsik food are meat, onions, garlic, left-over food, etc.

Only satvik food is offered to God. Rajsik or tamsik food is never offered as Bhog. The only persons who were offered tamsik and rajsik food in Ramayana are Ahi Ravana and Kumbhkaran. Both of them were of an evil nature. Kumbhkaran signified tamas and Ahi Ravana, rajas or aggression. Tamsik and rajsik food can be converted into satvik by slow heating, sprouting or keeping them in water overnight. The examples are sprouted wheat and chana (chickpeas), etc.

A mixture of honey, milk, ghee, curd and sugar is called panchamrut and is a routine offering to God. All the five components have satvik properties and their consumption promotes health.

In Ayurveda, there is a saying that any food item, which grows under the ground, is tamsik in nature and one, which comes from the top of the tree or plant like leaves, flower and fruits are satvik in nature. Satvik food is usually fresh, seasonal and locally grown.

Human beings are made up of body, mind and soul and soul is equated to consciousness or God. If whatever is offered to the external God is also offered to the internal God or consciousness it leads to inner happiness. The ritual, therefore, of offering food to God before eating forces us to either eat only satvik food or to include a substantial portion of satvik food in our meals. It helps a person convert his meal into a pure satvik one or at least adding satvik items.

Sprinkling water around the plate is considered an act of purification.

Many people confuse bhog with chadhava or offerings to the deity. While bhog is shared with God, chadhava is the offering of your illness or negative thoughts to the God and you go back with prasada of inner happiness. Many people counter the above argument by saying that alcohol is offered to Bhairon, viewed as a demon God, which means alcohol, is good for health. I personally feel that alcohol is offered to Bhairon not as bhog but as an offering which means that people who are addicted to alcohol go to Bhairon and give their share of alcohol to him so they can de-addict themselves.

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If you have depression, a thorough physical exam and careful medical history should be undertaken to pinpoint a physical source of the problem for an appropriate treatment.

In depression, not only look for what’s going on in the mind and brain but also check what’s going on in the body. Many medical problems are linked to mood disturbances.

More than 50% of heart attack survivors and those with cancer report feeling depressed. Depression is also linked to diabetes, Parkinson’s and other chronic conditions.

Depression too can affect the course of a physical disease. Depression is linked with slower recovery from a heart attack and an increased risk for future heart trouble.

Thyroid disorders also affect mood. Overactive thyroid can cause mania and under active thyroid can cause depression. Other medical conditions associated with mood disorders include certain neurological conditions (multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s), other hormonal imbalances, and lack of vitamin B12.

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A high-salt diet may increase the risk of developing gastric and duodenal ulcers. High concentrations of salt in the stomach can induce gene activity in the ulcer-causing Helicobacter pylori bacterium that causes it to become more virulent.  Bacterial cells exposed to increased salt exhibit striking morphological changes. Cells become elongated and form long chains. Salt restriction also reduces the diastolic blood pressure by 2-8 mmHg.

A WHO report said that reducing salt intake would be a cost-effective way to reduce the risk of developing high blood pressure directly and reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke indirectly. The report recommends people to reduce consumption of sodium to less than 2 gm per day for each person. Common salt is chemically called Sodium Chloride (NaCl). About 2.5 gm of table salt contains one gm of Sodium. This would mean that about 5 gm of table salt is the current recommended level of consumption per day.

According to a report published from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in the year 2000, the average intake of salt inIndiais 10 gm per day for each person. This would amount to about 4 gm of sodium. The current recommendations suggest reducing this consumption by half.

A recent research study conducted by researchers at Harvard Medical School and published in the British Medical Journal, found that reducing salt intake by 25% reduced the risk of developing heart disease by 25% and reduced the chance of death from heart disease by 20%.

In 2002, the WHO estimated that globally about 62% of strokes and about 50% of heart attacks were attributable to high blood pressure.

Adding a pinch of salt to milk to keep it fresh longer is a common Internet tip for the population but traditional Ayurveda teaching goes against it. As per Charaka Samhita, too much of  pipalli, alkali and salt are bad for the health. Ayurveda totally prohibits taking salt with the milk.

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During a marriage ceremony, the swastika is painted on the wall or entrance of the house to wish for the well-being and happiness of the newly weds. The word swastika means auspicious in the Sanskrit language. It is regarded as a divine sign by Hindus and is usually found in temples, symbolizing the four directions, thus making it a universal symbol. It sends out pure vibrations for universal peace and prosperity.

The lines turning inwards tell us that each individual being a part of the Universe has to turn inwards in order to attain salvation. Each person has to strive for his or her self-realization by turning inwards.

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