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Dr K K Aggarwal

Spiritual Prescription: The Role of Prayer in Healing

By Dr K K Aggarwal
Filed Under Spirituality - Science Behind Rituals | Tagged With: , , | | Comments Off on Spiritual Prescription: The Role of Prayer in Healing

Religious beliefs may have a powerful influence on the health of our patients, and we need to know about them.

A large and growing number of studies have shown a direct relationship between religious involvement and positive health outcomes, including mortality, physical illnesses, mental illness, health-related quality of life and coping with illness.

Studies also suggest that addressing the spiritual needs of patients may facilitate recovery from illness. A majority of the nearly 350 studies of physical health and 850 studies of mental health that have used religious and spiritual variables have found that religious involvement and spirituality are associated with better health outcomes.

Although the relationship between religious involvement and spirituality with health outcomes seems valid, it is difficult to establish causality. The benefits of religious and spiritual involvement are likely conveyed through complex psychosocial, behavioral and biological processes that are incompletely understood.

All physicians should take a spiritual history of their patients, which could help discern their spiritual needs during treatment.

According to Dr. Harold Keonig of Duke University Medical Center in majority of cases, the doctor should not attempt to address complex spiritual needs of patients. When the patient is reluctant to talk with clergy and prefers to discuss spiritual matters with a trusted physician, taking a little extra time to listen and be supportive is usually all that is required.

Providing support for religious beliefs and practices that do not conflict with medical care may be appropriate, but when beliefs conflict with medical care, it is important not to criticize the belief, but rather to listen, gather information, enter into the patient’s world view and maintain open lines of communication, perhaps enlisting the help of the patient’s clergy.

Recently a study published in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings confirmed the importance of religion and spirituality for many patients undergoing medical treatment. The single–center, randomized, double–blind trial was conducted at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. from July 4, 1997 to Oct. 21, 1999 and involved 799 male and female coronary care patients aged 18 years or older.

Earlier too, a number of published studies have already assessed the effects of spiritual factors on health care outcomes: 75 percent report a positive effect; 17 percent report no effect; and 7 percent report a negative effect.

In the study, the patients were randomized into the intercessory prayer group and the control group. Intercessory prayer was administered at least once a week for 26 weeks by five intercessors per patient. After 26 weeks, a medical setback (such as death, cardiac arrest, re–hospitalization, coronary revascularization or an emergency department visit for cardiovascular disease) occurred in 25.6 percent of the prayer group and 29.3 percent of the control group. Among high–risk patients, such a setback occurred in 31 percent of the prayer group and 33 percent of the control group. Among low–risk patients, the difference between the groups was 17 percent for the prayer group and 24 percent for the control group.

Though the results were in favor of prayer yet the study had some limitations, which might have influenced the low positive results. It did not measure the ‘power of God,’ nor was the prayer offered for patients by loved ones, relatives and friends. The researchers said most patients have a spiritual life and regard their spiritual health and physical health as equally important. People may have greater spiritual needs during illness and are looking to have those needs met.

Prayer works on the principle that in the relaxed state, the mind becomes suggestive. The inner healing starts when the intent reaches the inner consciousness or a state of stillness.

Prayer is different from meditation. In prayer, one is talking to the GOD and in meditation, GOD is talking to you. Meditation is much stronger than prayer as it bypasses the mind and deals with the spirit or the consciousness. In prayer, the mind is in an active working phase. Meditation is the phase of restful alertness.

It all works at the level of autonomic nervous system. The parasympathetic state of mind is the healing state. Both prayer and the meditation take one from sympathetic to the parasympathetic state.

Role of folate or folic acid in cancer prevention

By Dr K K Aggarwal
Filed Under Wellness | Tagged With: , , , , | | Comments Off on Role of folate or folic acid in cancer prevention

The role of folic acid in cancer prevention is uncertain. Large observational studies have suggested a decrease in risk of colorectal and other cancers with dietary folate but others randomized trials have raised the possibility of harm.

In the largest meta–analysis of individual patient data from randomized trials of folic acid for the prevention of cardiovascular disease and colorectal adenoma during an average of 5.2 years of treatment, there was no significant difference in overall cancer incidence for patients assigned to folic acid or placebo.

Vollset SE, Clarke R, Lewington S, et al. Effects of folic acid supplementation on overall and site–specific cancer incidence during the randomised trials: meta–analyses of data on 50?000 individuals. Lancet 2013.