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Dr K K Aggarwal

Padma Shri and Dr B C Roy National Awardee

  • Manage your stress, particularly the pressures of deadlines and petty arguments.
  • An ongoing sense of extreme anxiety can be a reason for stress. Manage this with the help of deep breathing, meditation, yoga and a mindful approach to living.
  • Get a good night’s sleep.
  • If you need a sleeping medicine, it should be used in the lowest dose for the shortest period of time.
  • Get up at the same time every morning.
  • If you smoke, you must quit.
  • If you do not drink, do not start.
  • Alcohol makes it difficult to perform short term memory tasks such as memorizing a list. Alcohol induces vitamin B1 deficiency, which can also cause dementia.
  • Protect your brain from injury; repeated minor head trauma can cause brain damage. It is advisable to wear seat belt when riding in a motor vehicle. Wear a helmet while driving or riding a motorcycle.

As doctors, we are witnesses 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 to 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 sometimes 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 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 grand-father-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.

(Disclaimer: The views expressed in this write up are my own).

Patients with an acute leg cramp should forcefully stretch the affected muscle, for example, by active dorsiflexion of the foot with the knee extended, for a cramp in the calf.

Some patients may find relief from passive stretching by getting out of bed and standing with the foot flat on the floor and pressing downward firmly. However, active dorsiflexion of the foot may be more effective.

Other measures that may bring relief from the acute cramp include:

  • Walking or leg jiggling followed by leg elevation
  • A hot shower with the stream directed at the cramp area, for about five minutes, or a warm tub bath
  • Ice massage.

Smile is a sign of joy, while hug is a sign of love. Laughter, on the other hand, is a sign of inner happiness.

None of them are at the level of mind or intellect. All come from within the heart. They are only the gradations of your expressions of your happiness.

It is said that you are incomplete in your dress if you are not wearing a smile on your face.

Hug comes next and laughter the last. Laughter is like an internal jogging and has benefits like that of doing meditation.

But be careful; we must know when not to laugh. The most difficult is to laugh on oneself.

(Disclaimer: The views expressed in this write up are my own).

  • Brushing helps prevent plaque formation and build-up of bacteria which can cause tooth decay and periodontal diseases.
  • Floss every day as it can help clean the crevices where the brush is not able to reach.
  • Avoid sugary and starchy foods; sugar reacts with the bacteria in saliva to form an acid that erodes tooth enamel causing tooth decay.
  • The tongue can also harbor bacteria. Use a tongue scraper and clean your tongue every time you brush your teeth.
  • Consult a dentist if your gums are inflamed or there is bleeding. Do not ignore any pain in the teeth or gums.
  • Get a dental check-updone every six months. Dental cleaning and check-up twice a year is imperative.
  • Suno, Samjho, Jaano and Karo is the mantra for education and involves not only hearing but listening and understanding and then converting the understanding into wisdom and practically putting it into practice.
  • One of the components of education is etiquettes or manners, which can be at every level of education. In olden days, Rajkumars were sent to Gurukuls for formal education including that of warriorship. They were also sent to Gharanas/Kothas to learn tehzeeb the Lucknawi way where they were taught how to talk to each other and respect others. Their language in typically Lucknawi style used to be ‘we’ oriented and not ‘I’ oriented. Today’s education is more oriented towards ‘I-ness’ or ego and not towards the soul or respect.
  • As students, we were taught that a senior is a senior and needs to be respected. Even today, when we meet our teachers, we take blessings from them by touching their feet, but today’s students believe in shaking hands or saying ‘hi’. There is more and more commercial touch in the teacher-student relationship of today.
  • Ego makes one rude and arrogant with a mentality full of Rajas and Tamas. Road rage, gang rapes, murders, violence, terrorism are all examples of not learning etiquettes at the right time.

(Disclaimer: The views expressed in this write up are my own).

  • Mother/primary caregiver with active cavities
  • Parent/caregiver with low socioeconomic status
  • Prolonged breastfeeding or bottle-feeding (>12 months)
  • Frequent consumption of sugary beverages and snacks
  • Use of a bottle at bed time, especially with sweetened beverages
  • Use of liquid medication for longer than three weeks
  • Exposure to passive tobacco smoke
  • Children with special healthcare needs
  • Insufficient fluoride exposure
  • Visible plaque on upper front teeth
  • Enamel pits or defects

To stay healthy, we must eat right, engage in exercise, get rest, and get rid bad habits, such as smoking. But now it is said that “what you believe in” can have a huge impact on health and longevity. Studies show that patients with strong spirituality can improve their health from several chronic conditions, such as hypertension, heart disease, recover from surgery.

Evidence suggests that there are substantial health benefits from spirituality:

  1. People with religious beliefs or spirituality have lower cortisol responses, a hormone released in response to stress.
  2. Positive thinking produces nearly a 30% drop in perception of pain.
  3. Spirituality is linked with a slower progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
  4. Those who attend religious activities may live longer. Regular participation in such activities tends to reduce the mortality rate by about 12% a year.
  5. People undergoing cardiac rehabilitation are more confident and see greater improvements in their physical abilities if they have faith.
  6. Increased levels of spirituality may help substance abusers get rid of their habit.
  7. Spirituality stimulates the relaxation response. When the body is relaxed, the heart rate, blood pressure and breathing rate decrease, thus diminishing the body’s stress response.
  8. Spirituality can affect immune system function.
  9. Prayer heals the heart.
  10. Positive talking and thinking in the ICU yields better results.

Spirituality brings you peace and safety. It can be achieved through God or Goddess, nature, a beautiful sunset, a meditation, Pranayama, religious meeting, chanting, mind body relaxation, etc. Spirituality is something that can promote wellness and help with recovery.

  • Interact with your children: Instead of trying to keep them busy by giving them a phone, try spending some time interacting with them.
  • Keep computers or TVs in shared spaces: This will help you keep track of their usage and limit screen time.
  • Have a tech-free time: Make sure that a few hours in a day are devoted to zero screen time for the entire household.
  • Be wary of your habits: If parents devote too much time to mobiles and computers, children will follow the same. Set an example for your children.
  • Eat together: Meal times should not include screens; they are a time for the family to sit together and eat.
  • Indulge in physical activity: Make sure that your children spend sufficient time in outdoor activities. This will minimize the use of a Smartphone.

What a person believes in may have an impact on health and longevity. Spirituality and religion appear to have a positive link with well-being and better health outcomes.

Spirituality and the practice of religion have been linked with a slower progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Positive thinking is associated with about a 30% reduction in pain perception. People who regularly attend organized religious activities may live longer compared to those who do not participate in such activities. Regular participation in such activities reduces mortality rate by about 12% a year. Satsang is a way of acquiring spiritual well-being. Scientific evidence suggests that when meditation or chanting is done in groups, it has more benefits than when done alone.

Spirituality affects immune function, which can be measured, such as an increase in white blood cells.

Patients who undergo cardiac rehabilitation feel more confident and perceive greater improvements in their physical abilities if they have a strong faith. Increased levels of spirituality and religious faith may help substance abusers get rid of the habit.

Spirituality stimulates the relaxation response. It moves one from sympathetic to parasympathetic mode, which is the relaxed state. It heals and allows one to make better and correct, consciousness-based choices. People who are very religious or deeply spiritual have lower cortisol responses. Cortisol is released in response to stress. When the body is relaxed, the heart rate, blood pressure and breathing rate all come down, which decrease the body’s stress response. This is also why most of our temples are located in distant places. The silence of the spiritual atmosphere reduces the internal noise and helps us in our inner journey.

Mantra to acquire spiritual health – think positive and differently. While it is very difficult to remove negative thoughts, it is easy to cultivate positive thoughts. Persistent negative thoughts create sympathetic over activity and lead to lifestyle disorders.

Spirituality brings you peace and safety. It can be achieved through God/Goddess, nature, a sunset, meditation, Pranayama, religious meeting, chanting, mind body relaxation, etc. Spirituality can help all the way from promoting wellness to helping with recovery.

(Disclaimer: The views expressed in this write up are my own).

Human body needs servicing too!

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While automobiles need preventive servicing every three months, the human body also needs it every two months.

According to Ayurveda, seasons change every two months, approximately in the middle of the month.

Ayurveda describes these changes as well as the precautions that need to be taken. Lohri marks the sun’s entry into the ‘Makar Rashi’. The sun changes its direction northwards, leading to lengthening of day and shortening of night. This period calls for several lifestyle changes to balance health and prevent diseases. Vata gets aggravated, kapha gets accumulated and pitta gets depleted during this season.

In allopathic language, pitta represents metabolic functions, vata signifies movement functions and kapha stands for secretory functions.

Lohri, Makar Sankranti and Pongal are celebrated with khichdi, milk, gur, bhaat, sesame (Til) laddu, light hot food and beverages, etc. All of these point to measures to limit vata and kapha and increase pitta in the body.

Collective Consciousness

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Consciousness refers to an energized field of information which has powers to do everything in the universe. Collective consciousness represents the internet of the collective souls of many people in a group.

Collective consciousness is the strongest super power ever available in the universe. As per the Vedic texts, whatever is the intent of collective consciousness will become a reality. Scientifically, collective consciousness is driven by the principle of critical mass. Vedic literature has shown it to be 1% of the population under study.

The origin of the critical mass comes from 100th monkey phenomenon. Long ago, in Japan, a monkey named Emo used to eat dirty apples picked up from the ground every day. One day, an apple accidentally fell down in the nearby river, the dirt got washed off and he ate the washed apple. It tasted delicious. He started washing the apples thereafter every day. His fellow monkeys started following what he did. The process went on and a day came when the 100th monkey washed the apple and ate it. A strange phenomenon occurred. All monkeys in and around that area started washing the apple before eating. The no. 100 was the critical mass.

Once this mass is crossed, the information will spread like a wild fire and the intent becomes a universal reality. Vedic literature suggests that if 1% of the people of an area meditate together, the crime rate of that area declines. It also discusses the role of critical mass in prayers in achieving miracles.

Thus, the principle of critical mass is often used in designing and organizing an event. In a movie hall of 1000 people, if 10 people clap sitting in different areas everybody will clap. The same holds true for hooting at a particular scene. Most politicians make use of this principle while organizing election rallies. For a gathering of 10000 they need 100 and for a gathering of 1000 people they only need 10 supporters who are supposed to sit in different areas and shout or clap on given directions. The Mexican way of hooting or clapping in cricket grounds also follows the same principle. For a ground like Eden Gardens with a capacity of 75,000 people, only 750 people are required to control the mood of the people. Most successful leaders used this technology to lead.

Postmenopausal women should get their insulin levels done

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Postmenopausal women must try to keep their insulin levels normal by means of weight loss, regular exercise and other methods. Postmenopausal women with high insulin levels have an increased risk of developing breast cancer.

A report published in the International Journal of Cancer from Researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University in New York City noted a strong link between elevated insulin levels in the blood and increased risk of breast cancer. Evaluating data on 5,450 women who were a part of the Women’s Health Initiative, they noted that women with insulin levels in the highest third had double the likelihood of developing breast cancer compared to women in the bottom third.

The link between raised insulin levels and breast cancer was found to be more robust among thin women compared to obese women, who tend to have higher insulin levels. This is an important finding as it suggests that, in postmenopausal women, insulin may serve as a risk factor for breast cancer independent of obesity.

Why do we burn camphor in any pooja?

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No aarti is performed without camphor. Camphor burns itself out completely, when lit, without leaving a trace.

Camphor represents our inherent tendencies or vasanas. When lit by the fire of knowledge about the self, the vasanas burn themselves out completely, not leaving a trace of ego.

Ego is responsible for a sense of individuality that keeps us separate from the Lord or consciousness.

In addition, camphor, on burning, emits a pleasant perfume. This signifies that as we burn our ego, we can only spread love and nothing else.

(Disclaimer: The views expressed in this write up are my own).

Dentists can diagnose

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  • Early mouth cancer
  • Scurvy: In the mouth, scurvy can cause gums to swell, bleed and soften, resulting in tooth loss.
  • Eating disorder: Regular episodes of vomiting can cover the teeth in gastric acid that can remove the tooths enamel. As a result, teeth can become discolored, cracked and sensitive.
  • Anemia: Ulcers at the corner of the mouth,a change in color of the gums and tongue.
  • Sinus infection: Infected sinuses can cause pain in the jaw and around the teeth, which can be mistaken for a toothache.
  • Poor vitamin intake: Vitamin D is needed for calcium absorption, which helps to prevent tooth decay and gum disease. Lack of zinc predisposes to gum disease, dry mouth and loss of sensation in tongue.Low vitamin B3 levels can cause the tip of the tongue to become red and swollen. Deficiency of vitamin B2 can cause the tongue to become sore and lips red and shiny. Vitamin B12 levels can prevent bad breath, loss of taste and fissured tongue.
  • Patients with diabetes have a higher risk of early gingivitis and periodontitis.
  • Biting the nails: Biting nails puts undue stress on the teeth, causing them to crack, chip and wear down.Jaw pain, receding gums and headaches are other side effects of grinding and clenching associated with nail biting.