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Dr K K Aggarwal

Padma Shri and Dr B C Roy National Awardee

OTC does not mean that these drugs can be taken without a doctors advice

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An over-the-counter antacid is often used to relieve mild cases of heartburn or acid reflux. Though they are available without a doctor’s prescription, they should be taken only under a doctor’s advice. As per American Academy of Family Physicians:

  • There are different types of antacids, which work in different ways.
  • Always consult your doctor before taking an antacid.
  • To manage an ulcer, an antacid may need to be taken along with an antibiotic.
  • If one needs more calcium to help strengthen bones, one should take an antacid that contains calcium carbonate.
  • Antacids may have minor side effects such as nausea, headache, diarrhea or constipation in some patients.
  • Read the label carefully to make sure that one is not allergic to any of the ingredients.
  • People with kidney disease may not be able to take all sorts of antacids.
  • An antacid may interact with other medications.

Why are coconut and the kalash used in all poojas?

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‘If nature wanted you to drink coconut water in non-coastal areas it would not have grown coconuts in the coastal areas’ is a common naturopathic saying. Coconut water is the treatment for most humidity-related illnesses in coastal areas. It is sterile water and has been used in surgical practice as a sterile fluid. It is also used as a replacement for oral rehydration solution. Hence, because of its many uses, it is regarded as the ‘Tree of Life’.

Coconut is one of the most common offerings in a temple, weddings, and festivals. It is offered in all sacrificial fires whilst performing the Homa(fire rituals). The coconut is usually split and placed before the Lord and is later distributed as Prasadam. The fibrous outer covering of the dried coconut is removed except for a tuft on the top.

The marks on the coconut make it look like a human head. The splitting of a coconut symbolizes the conquest of the ego. The outer covering represents the body, the juice within, one’s inner tendencies (vasanas) and the white kernel, the mind. Be as firm as the outer shell of the coconut but at the same time be as soft like the inner fruit of the coconut.

Also, a coconut – Sriphala(fruit of the gods) – is the only fruit used to symbolize God while worshipping any deity. It is used in the making of a Purna-Kumbha (‘purna’ = full, ‘kumbha’ = pot or kalash), an independent object of worship. The earthen pot full of water and with fresh mango leaves and a coconut on top is placed in front of the main deity or by the side of the deity before starting any Pooja. The pot symbolizes Mother Earth; water, the life-giver; the leaves, life (air); and the coconut, divine consciousness (space). All religious rituals start with the worship of the kalash with coconut as symbol of Lord Ganesha. The coconut is also worshipped as symbol of the Godhead – the three eyes are symbolic of the eyes of Lord Shiva (Trayambaka – Rudra). Sage Vishwamitra grew the first coconut tree on this earth by the power of his tapa.

The hard shell inspires one to have tolerance and work hard for attaining success.

The coconut also symbolizes selfless service. Every part of the tree, whether it is the trunk, leaves, fruit, or coir,is used to make thatches, mats, tasty dishes, oil, soap, etc.

Coconut water is used in the preparation of many Ayurveda drugs. The kernel is used to gain strength and improve eyesight. Its water is nourishing. Coconut oil is used to nourish the hair. It has glucose, phosphorous and carbohydrates. Germs cannot penetrate its hard kernel. Ancient Indian healers burnt its outer shell to prepare tooth powder, eyebrow creams and ointments for burns. Coconut milk is made by grating the endocarp and mixing it with warm water. This produces a thick, white liquid called coconut milk which is extensively used in Asian cooking, for example, in curries. Water from the unripe coconut is drunk fresh as a refreshing drink.

Tender coconut water is used in the rituals of abhishek, since it is believed to bestow spiritual growth on the seeker.

On the auspicious occasion of Rakhi Purnima (Rakshabandhan), coconuts are thrown into the sea as offerings to Varuna, God of the Sea. In western India, this festival is called Nariyal Purnima (Coconut Full Moon).

The Chhandogya Upanishad by Swami Krishnananda (78) talks about another quality of the coconut that has a spiritual resonance: “The coconut that is raw sticks to the shell. That is the condition of the bound soul. Consciousness sticks to the shell of this body. But in the case of the liberated soul, it is inside the body, no doubt, but is not sticking to the body, even as the dry coconut is not touching the shell. It makes a sound inside if we shake it. It is detached from the shell, though it is there tentatively. Even so, consciousness is not confined to the body, even though it is inside.”

In the Chidakasha Gita by ParamahansaNityananda, the coconut tree is described as a state of meditation: “At another time all feeling comes to a standstill. Sometime the body becomes quite motionless like a coconut tree”.

Ganesha’s favorite food is made up of a sweet core of candied coconut pulp covered with a layer made of white flour. The insipid outer shell is said to represent the gross physical body, the sweet inside stands for the resplendent soul.

When the Asuras and the Devas churned the milky ocean, Lord Dhanwantri appeared bearing the pot of nectar, which blessed one with everlasting life. Thus, the kalasha also symbolizes immortality.

Keeping blood pressure in the safe zone

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By keeping your BP below 120/80, you can avoid a number of diseases, such as heart disease, kidney failure and erectile dysfunction. When lifestyle changes fail to provide benefit, doctors can provide medication.

  • Limit sodium intake. DASH diet keeps sodium to 2,300 mg per day (about one teaspoon of salt). Cutting it down to 1,500 is even better. The DASH diet can decrease your systolic blood pressure by 10 points or more.
  • Monitor your blood pressure at home. This can give you an instant idea on the benefits of diet and exercise and yield a more accurate picture of your blood pressure levels. This is important, in the sense that some people experience white coat hypertension, wherein the blood pressure rises higher than normal when measured at the doctor’s office.
  • Limit alcohol intake. Men can take 1 to 2 alcoholic drinks per day, defined as 1.5 ounces (1 shot glass) of 80–proof spirits, a 5–ounce serving of wine, or a 12–ounce serving of beer. Women may take no more than one drink a day.
  • Take more meds if required—but take the right ones.

(Healthbeat)

The Skill of Controlling Anger

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Cynicism is one of the major risk factors for causation of coronary artery disease (blockages in the channels supplying blood to the heart). And anger, jealousy and irritability form the triad responsible for this.

Anger is the enemy of peace, knowledge and devotion. According to Ayurveda, anger is a manifestation of Pitta (metabolism) imbalance and is a predisposing risk factor for causation of heart attack, paralysis, gall bladder stone, kidney stone, acidity, ulcer and cancer.

In Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna describes the pathway of anger leading to destruction in Chapter 2 Shloka 62 and 63. According to Lord Krishna, when a man’s desires are not fulfilled or expectations are not met, one becomes angry. And when one is under the effect of anger, he does all types of sinful activities. One loses the distinction between good and bad, loses one’s memory, the understanding becomes clouded, and the intellect gets perverted. Loss of intellect leads to animal-like behavior, and ultimately to destruction of oneself.

Angercan have several repercussions, which are injustice, rashness, persecution, jealousy, taking possession of others’ property, killing, using harsh words and cruelty. The degree of anger may vary from irritation, frowning, resentment, indignation, rage, fury and wrath.

Anger is not always bad. It is only when the anger is an outcome of greed or selfish motives, it is bad.

Righteous or spiritual anger is a type of anger caused with good intentions. This anger passes off the next moment as a wave subsides in the sea. The classical example of righteous anger is when you become angry in a situation where you see a person doing something wrong to check that person. The root cause of anger is ignorance, egoism, and passion (strong desires), with passion being the root cause. To control anger, therefore, passion should be controlled first.

In Vedic language, both anger and passion are Rajo-Vriti disorders and get exaggerated with any Rajas-increasing lifestyle. Living a life with fewer Rajas characteristics will reduce the chances of anger.

Rajas-increasing foods are eggs, fish, onion, garlic, fermented foods, etc. Indulging into modern fashion, night clubs, reading novels with stories of violence, living in the company of bad people, use of tobacco, alcohol and drugs are all Rajas-increasing lifestyles. A typical Rajasik person indulges in eating, drinking and procreating.

Controlling anger and passion involves effort. As a fish swims upstream against the current in a river to breathe, so does a person has to work against the disturbed thoughts. To balance and stabilize the mind, consuming ‘satvik’ foods like fresh food, vegetables, milk and barley bread will help.

Many exercises canhelp control anger. A few suggested ones are observing silence for 20 to 30 minutes in a day, walking regularly, practicing speaking kind words; doing regular meditation, practicing non-violent communication daily and learning to think differently.

During an episode of anger, one can try left nostril pranayama, a short deep breathing exercise, taking a walk, drinking cold or simple water or chanting AUM or I AM. With inspiration one chants “I” and with expiration “AM” reminding one who I AM. That I am the expression of pure spirit and my purpose of life is not to become angry. Remember, the person who gets angry will have high blood pressure. On whom you are angry may have no change in blood pressure.

One should realize that during anger, one loses the power of discrimination and suffers from intellectual impairment. Therefore, anger has to be controlled much before it becomes full blown. The initial stage of anger is irritability, and therefore, with the onset of irritability, one should try to control it at the earliest.

Never judge an individual with your own level of perception. You should realize that if a servant starts working with your level of expectations, he or she will not be working with you as a servant. Also make sure that you are not hungry at the time of feeling angry or irritable. Regular meals prevent development of anger.

Anger can be expressive or suppressive. Expressive anger presents with aggressive behavior and the outbursts of anger can cause social unhealthiness. It can cause sudden rise in upper blood pressure or cause rupture of a plaque in the artery supplying blood to the heart precipitating a heart attack.

Suppressive anger can lead to acidity, asthma, formation of plaques in the heart arteries, etc. In the long run, suppressed anger, if not expressed may end up with depression, despondency, guilt, etc.

Therefore anger should neither be passed on to others (expressive) nor taken within (suppressed or repressed). Anger, therefore, should be altered, neutralized, or modified. This can be done by temporarily holding it for some time and then taking timely action. Temporary holding can be achieved by using the above exercises. Remember both passion and anger are energies, which should be conserved and not wasted.

The mythological explanation of Shiva, the Neelkanth, is also the same. Neither throw the poison (anger), nor drink it but keep it in the throat for some time and take the right action after the anger manifestations are over.

From Vedic point of view, every thought arises from the silent potential web of energized information or consciousness. This thought from the mind is then analyzed by the intellect and then modified by the ego. At this stage it leads to an action. An action leadsto memory and memory leads to desire for the action again. If this desire is fulfilled, it leads to action again and then desire again. Repeated fulfillment of desires leads to habit formation, addictions and development of a particular personality. An unfulfilled desire leads to irritability and irritability leads to anger, which then can be expressive or suppressive.

The answer, therefore, lies in changing the perception at the level of thought or controlling desires and/or expectations.

Drinking coffee prevents Parkinson’s disease

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Nicotine present in tobacco has been used for its medicinal value for quite some time for diseases like Parkinson’s disease and ulcerative colitis. A study from University of Miami School of Medicine, USA revealed that people from families prone to Parkinson’s disease are less likely to develop the disease if they drink coffee on a regular basis.

Both coffee and nicotine have a link with dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is a chemical that decreases in patients with Parkinson’s disease.

It is possible that people who are going to have Parkinsons disease have lower levels of dopamine. Those with low levels of dopamine may be more likely to enjoy caffeine.

Parkinsons disease occurs when brain cells that produce dopamine die. This is a progressive disease and affects about 1% of people above 65 years of age. Symptoms include tremors, muscular rigidity and slow movements and can progress to paralysis. While there is no cure, some drugs may make symptoms better for a period of time.

Spiritual prescriptions learnt from patients

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As doctors we are witness to human suffering. When we were young in medical college, we were quite disturbed seeing the sufferings of the people. But, in our practice, we have learnt many spiritual prescriptions from our patients. These have not only helped us heal our patients but also changed our perception to health and sickness.

I recall Swami Bodhanand, a disciple of Swami Chinmayananda, was once hospitalized under our care. When I asked him to give me a spiritual message, he said only two words “Detached Attachment”. He said, “As a doctor you should behave like a lotus leaf. It is wet as long as there is a drop of water on it, but once the drop is out, the leaf is as dry as if the water was never there.” The message was that “we should be attached to our patients as long as they are with us. The day they die, we should be completely detached from them or else we will not be able to treat other patients”.

I saw another spiritual guru through our Chief Anesthetist. The fee he paid me was a spiritual message “Suno Samjho Jano Karo – Hear Understand Wisdom and Do”. He said that hearing is different from listening, listening is different from wisdom and wisdom is different from doing. Unless you hear, understand what you have heard and implement, the learning has no value.

One of my Buddhist patients gave me a spiritual learning, which has helped me a lot in my routine clinical practice. He taught me the basic Buddhist message that there is suffering all over, there is a reason for every suffering and it is possible to maintain sufferings. This message fits into the main message of Hinduism and also the main teaching from Garud Purana.

In Hinduism, we know that the very fact that we are born in this life means that in our last life, we could not get liberation as Hinduism believes that after liberation you are not reborn. Not getting liberated in the last birth means that some sufferings were left in our life. The basic purpose of this birth, therefore, is to face sufferings. When the basic purpose of our birth is to face sufferings, then why suffer from these sufferings. Every time we suffer, we should thank God that he has reduced one more. The period in between two sufferings is called a happy period (Sukh). In fact that period is nothing but a period of rest given by God to us to prepare the body for next suffering. This, as a concept of counseling, helps my patients in managing most of their mental disturbances.

Not telling a patient that he is suffering from terminal cancer sometime works. One of my patient’s father, aged 83 years, was found to have extensive cancer of the prostate. Medically, we all gave him three months to live. My patient did not have the courage to tell his father or the family members that he (the father) had extensive cancer. He took me into confidence and played a game with the family. We gathered all the family members and told them that with the surgery, his cancer had been cured. A party was organized in the evening to celebrate the cure. The magic happened; he lived almost a symptom–free life for the next 9 years. I have tried this on many of my patients thereafter and it works. The probable explanation was loss of fear of death, a confidence in his doctor and faith in himself.

The way to live up to the age of hundred is to go on working in life. My great grandfather-in-law was 75 years old when I got married. That year, he gathered all family members from across the world and said that his purpose of life was over and, he would like a collective family photograph and like to quit the world. Nothing happened for a year and he did this again next year. The entire family from across the world gathered but he remained alive for another year. This went on for three years. Then, we played a spiritual trick on him and told everyone to convince him that he is going to live for 100 years as he has many more works of the family to be done. Every year, we gave him law students from within the family to be taught (he was a lawyer himself), or gave him the responsibility of finding a boy for some eligible girl in the family. We made him teach and search for suitable bride/bridegrooms for years together and he actually died at the age of 100 years. This is the beauty of positive attitude in life.

Predicting sudden cardiac death

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  • Normally people can walk a distance of 400-700 meters in 6 minutes.
  • A 6-minute walking distance of less than 300 meter is a simple and useful predictor of sudden cardiac death in a patient with mild to moderate heart failure.
  • Patients with interstitial lung disease who can cover less than 200 meters during 6 minute walk test are 4 times more likely to die than those who can walk greater distance.
  • People who can cover a distance of 200-300 meters need further evaluation.
  • A fall of SpO2 of more than 4% ending below 93% suggests significant desaturation.
  • An improvement of more than 70 meters or 10% in distance walked can make all the difference.
  • An improvement of 30 meters in any distance walked is the minimally important difference in any treatment.
  • Sudden cardiac death is linked to 15% of total urban mortality.
  • Risk factors for sudden cardiac death include abnormal lipid level, high blood pressure, cigarette smoking, physical inactivity, diabetes, obesity and family history of premature heart disease or heart attack.
  • Binge alcoholism can cause sudden cardiac death (6 or more drinks per day or five drinks in one session).
  • Risk of sudden cardiac arrest is transiently increased for up to 30 minutes after strenuous exercise.
  • If you are at low risk for having a heart problem, you do not need a regular treadmill test.

Science behind regrets

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In a US-based study, dying people were asked about their regrets, if any. The top five regrets were:

  1. I wish I had the courage to live a life I wanted to live and not what others expected me to live.
  2. I wish I had worked harder.
  3. I wish I had the courage to express my feelings.
  4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
  5. I wish I had let myself to be happier.

Regrets are always based on suppression of emotions or non–fulfilment of desires and needs. These need-based desires can be at the level of physical body, mind, intellect, ego or the soul. Therefore, regrets can be at any of these levels.

I did a survey of 15 of my patients and asked them a simple question that if they come to know that they are going to die in next 24 hours, what would be their biggest regret.

Only one of them, a doctor, said that she would have no regrets.

Only one person expressed a physical regret and that was from a Yoga expert who said that her regret was not getting married till that day.

Mental regrets were two.

  1. A state trading businessman said, “I wish I could have taken care of my parents.”
  2. A Homoeopathic doctor said, “I wish I could have given more time to my family.”

Intellectual regrets were three.

  1. A lawyer said, “I wish I could have become something in life.”
  2. A businessman said, “I wish I could have helped more people.”
  3. A retired revenue inspector said, “I wish I had married off my younger child.”

Egoistic regrets were two.

  1. One fashion designer said, “I wish I could have become a singer.”
  2. A housewife said, “I wish I could have become a dietician.”

Spiritual regrets were six.

  1. A Consultant Government Liaison officer said, “I wish I could have made my family members happy.”
  2. A businessman said, “I wish I could have meditated more.”
  3. A Homoeopathic doctor said, “I wish I could have spent more time with my family.”
  4. A reception executive said, “I wish I could have spent more time with my parents.”
  5. An entertainment CEO said, “I wish I could have taken my parents for a pilgrimage.”
  6. A fashion designer said, “I wish I could have worked more for the animals.”

In a very popular and successful movie, Kal Ho Na Ho, the hero was to die in the next 40 days. When asked to remember the days of his life, he could not remember 20 ecstatic instances in life.

This is what happens with each one of us where we waste all our days and cannot remember more than 50 or even 20 of such instances. If we are given 40 days to live and if we live every day ecstatically, we can get inner happiness. Therefore, we should learn to live in the present instead of having a habit of postponing everything we do.

We should learn to prioritize our work and do difficult work first or else we would be in a state of constant worry till that work is over.

I teach my patients that they should practice confession exercise and one confession is to talk about your regrets and take them as challenge and finish before the next Tuesday. When working, there are three things which are to be remembered – passion, profession and fashion. Profession is at the level of mind, ego and spirit.

We should convert our profession in such a manner that it is fashionable and passionate. Passion means working from the heart and profession means working from mind and intellect and fashion means working the same at the level of ego which is based on show-off.

Even Children Can Have Acidity

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Children with continuing recurrence of cough and croup could probably be suffering from stomach acid reflux problems.

Croup or ‘Kali Khansi’, as it is called in local parlance, is recognized by a loud cough that often sounds like the barking of a seal. It can cause rapid or difficult breathing, and sometimes wheezing. Croup is believed to be caused by a virus, but reflux acidity has been suggested as a possible trigger.

In gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), stomach acid causes swelling and inflammation of the larynx, thus narrowing the airway. It can incite more swelling with any viral or respiratory infection.

It is important to identify children with GERD in order to help treat and improve recurring croup. It is unusual that a child would have three or more bouts of croup over a short period of time. These children need to be evaluated.

The same is true for adults also. Patients with non-responding asthma should be investigated for underlying acidity as the cause of acute asthma.

Search for Happiness in the Present Moment

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Happiness should not be considered as being synonymous with pleasure. Pleasure is transient and is always associated with pain later on. Any transient addiction to any of the five senses will either lead to pleasure or pain. Pleasure leads to attachment resulting in more intense and greater desires, and if these are not fulfilled, they cause pain, which manifests as anger, irritability or even a physical disease. This type of transient pleasure is chosen by the individuals who attach themselves not only to the actions, but also to its results.

The soul, which is an energized field of information and energy, is controlled by the person’s action, memory and desire. With every action, a memory is created which either gets stored or is recirculated again as an action. If one does not control the desires, the recurrent actions may cause more problems than happiness.

True happiness, on the other hand, is internal happiness or the happiness of the soul or of the consciousness. It is often said, “You are what you eat, you are what you think and you are what you do.” Hence, your own internal happiness will vary with what you eat, think, and do.

Being in the present moment leads to true happiness. If one laments about the past or keeps fearing about the future all the time, he will never be able to live in the present. Not living in the present is bound to cause unhappiness. One should learn to live and enjoy the present, which can only be done by attaching oneself to the actions and not to its results.

Doing one’s duty with devotion and discipline also helps one to remain in the present. Performing good action is important, but it is equally important to maintain the purity of the mind at the same time. Because any intention in the thought creates the same chemical reaction as when the actual deed is done, abusing a person in thought is the same as abusing him in person. Cultivating positive actions in day-to-day life, like, giving or sharing, etc., helps in acquiring internal happiness.

Thoughts ultimately get metabolized into various chemicals and hormones, changing the internal biochemistry of the person; hence, by thinking about cancer all the time, one can actually induce it over a period of time. And similarly, cancers can be cured by thinking positive over a period of time.

Internal happiness gives a deep feeling of satisfaction and is not associated with any transient chemical changes which are generally associated with bodily pleasure activities. People who are internally happy are always contented and are devoid of jealousy, anger, irritability, greed and ego.

One should learn to disassociate from both external pain as well as pleasure, and only then can one acquire true internal happiness.

Tips to prevent diabetes

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  • Do not eat white refined carbohydrates.
  • Eat less at a time.
  • Work out at least 30 minutes a day.
  • Eat plenty of green bitter vegetables.
  • Eat a high fiber diet.
  • Do not consume trans fats.

Training in any field requires gaining knowledge, skills and positive mental attitude towards the object of learning. Knowledge is everything about what and why. In Yoga, it correlates with the Gyan (Gnana) Marg. The skill is all about how to do it and correlates with Karma Marg. A positive mental attitude is linked to willingness to do any work or in other words one’s Astha in that action. In Yoga, it is synonymous with Bhakti Marg.

In Bhagwad Gita, Lord Krishna talks about all the principles of management including how to train and develop an individual. The development teaches and increases one’s intelligence quotient (IQ), physical quotient (PQ), emotional quotient (EQ) and moral quotient (MQ).

High fat diet increases risk of prostate cancer

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Diets high in saturated fat increase the risk of prostate cancer, according to a report published in the International Journal of Cancer.

  • Men who consume high saturated animal fat diet are twice as likely to experience disease progression after prostate cancer surgery as men with lower saturated fat intake.
  • There is also shorter “disease-free” survival time among obese men who eat high saturated fat diet compared with non-obese men consuming diets low in saturated fat.
  • Men with a high saturated fat intake tend to have the shortest survival time free of prostate cancer (19 months)
  • Non-obese men with low fat intake survived the longest time free of the disease (46 months) in the study.
  • Non-obese men with high intake and obese men with low intake had disease–free survival of 29 and 42 months, respectively.

Take home messages

  • High saturated fat diet has been linked to cancer of the prostate.
  • Reducing saturated fat in the diet after prostate cancer surgery can help reduce cancer progression.
  • Cancer prostate has the same risk factors as heart blockages and both are linked to high saturated fat intake.
  • With the increase in heart patients, a corresponding increase in prostate cancer patients is also seen in the society.

It is natural for us to promise or offer to pray for someone who suffers from sickness. So many people believe in the power of prayer that it has now caught the attention of scientists and doctors. Today most hospitals and nursing homes are building prayer rooms for their patients, based on the principle that a relaxed mind is a creative mind. During prayer, a person is in touch with the consciousness, and is able to take correct decisions. Most doctors even write on their prescriptions “I treat He cures”.

Medically it has been proved that the subconscious mind of an unconscious person is listening. Any prayer, therefore, would be captured by the patient, building inner confidence and faith to fight terminal sickness. We have seen the classical example of the effect of mass prayer on a person’s health in the case of Amitabh Bachchan’s illness.

“Praying for health is one of the most common complementary treatments people do on their own,” said Dr Harold G Koenig, co-director of the Center for Spirituality, Theology and Health at Duke University Medical Center.

About 90% of Americans and almost 100% Indians pray at some point in their lives, and when they’re under stress, for instance, when they’re sick, they’re even more likely to pray.

Overa third of the people surveyed in a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine said that they often turned to prayer when experiencing medical concerns. In a poll involving over 2,000 Americans, 75% of those who prayed said that they prayed for wellness, while 22% stated that they prayed for specific medical conditions.

Numerous randomized studies have been conducted on this subject. In one study, neither the patients nor the healthcare providers knew who was being prayed for. The coronarycare unit patients were not even aware that a study was being conducted. And, those praying for the patients had never even met them. While those in the prayer group had about the same length of hospital stay, their overall health was slightly better compared to the group that didn’t receive special prayers.

Prayer seems to be an effective adjunct to standard medical care, suggested the authors of this 1999 study, also published in the Archives of Internal Medicine. A trial from the April 2006 issue of the American Heart Journal suggests that it is possible that some harm may come from prayer. In this study, involving 1,800 people scheduled for heart surgery, the group who knew they were receiving prayers developed more complications from the procedure, compared to those who had not been a focus of prayer.

Many patients are reluctant and do not discuss this subject with their doctors. Only 11% patients mention prayer to their doctors. But, doctors are more open to the subject than the patients realize, especially in serious medical situations. A study looking into doctors’ attitudes toward prayer and spiritual behaviour revealed that nearly 85% of the doctors thought they should be aware of their patients’ spiritual beliefs. Most doctors said that they wouldn’t pray with their patients even if they were dying, unless the patient specifically asked them to pray with them. In that case, 77% of the doctors were willing to pray for their patient.

Most people are convinced that prayer helps. Some people are foxhole religious types and prayer is almost a reaction or cry to the Universe for help. However, many people do it because they’ve experienced benefit from it in the past.

If a patient wants to pray and feels it might help, there’s no reason he should not. If he believes that prayer might work, then he should use it.

COMMENTS
Dr Simran Sharma

Winter smoking may be dangerous

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Winter smoking can precipitate heart attack, paralysis and acute rise in blood pressure.

Smoking in winter can also increase the risk of erectile dysfunction in men. Men who smoke 20 cigarettes a day are 40% more likely to struggle with erectile dysfunction than men who do not smoke. Nicotine present in smoke can constrict the blood supply to the male organ.

As per a study published in the journal Tobacco Control, in men aged 16-59, the risk of erectile dysfunction was almost double in smokers than in non-smokers.

In winter, blood pressure and diabetes may also be uncontrolled adding to the problem of erectile dysfunction.

Obese people and people who consume more alcohol are more at risk.

Depression is also common in winter adding to the agony.