Monthly Archives: March 2020

EUTHANASIA AND INDIAN SPIRITUALITY.

Euthanasia (Mercy Killing) is a controversial subject and there are several opinions for and against it. The word Euthanasia is derived from the Greek word ‘EU’ which means good and ‘THANATOS’ which means death.  Euthanasia is legalized in some Scandinavian countries under strict medico-legal supervision in terminally ill patients.  In India too, there have been several debates to legalize Euthanasia, but the majority of the Indian medical fraternity are opposed to it.

The Vedanta approach to disease is Holistic. Vedanta believes that diseases are caused by wrong living, like abusing the body with wrong life styles and also wrong thinking or inability to calm the restless mind.  Vedanta also believes that there are deeper causes for diseases like ‘past life karma’.  These ‘Karmic diseases’ do not respond even when handled the right way in keeping with the systems of Medicine known to man.  Unfortunately these incurable diseases cause tremendous suffering to the patient and the patient often yearns for death as a release from suffering.

Vedanta strongly believes that this suffering should be welcomed and accepted as a ‘cleansing of the Karma’ and no attempt should be made to interfere with the karma and a true cure in the spiritual sense can be only possible through the elimination of the past causations.

In cases of incurable diseases, the soul is cleansed, so that it can go into a higher realm, while there may be suffering in the body and the mind. It is for this reason, Spiritual masters like Ramana Maharishi and Swami Ramakrishna never interfered with their cancers and were blissfully ignorant of the pain, because their self realized state permitted their minds to receive the light of the soul and they were merged in the Cosmic bliss despite the tremendous suffering their bodies underwent. Vedanta is against Euthanasia because it is a hindrance to the progress of the soul. Vedanta believes that tender loving care must be given to the sufferers and they must be reminded of the eternal spiritual values for the liberation of the soul in the terminal stages of their disease.

LEARNING ABOUT DRUG INTERACTIONS.

Introduction:

In 1956, a West German pharmaceutical company, as a sedative, introduced a drug called as thalidomide.  It was marketed under the name of Contergan.   By 1958, it was promoted all over the world and was used for combating insomnia.  Pregnant women were given this drug for nausea.  Soon thalidomide’s teratogenic effects became apparent and hundreds of children were born with seal limbs and many horrific abnormalities. The drug became disgraced and it was subsequently withdrawn from the market in 1961. 

In recent years, several drugs have been introduced with a big media splash, only to be condemned later for sometimes life threatening side effects. Often newspaper headlines scream frightening headlines that Parkinson’s drug called as Pergolide can damage heart valves. There are plenty of examples of how Pharmaceutical companies hide drug side effects for profits.  A drug for arthritis called as a COX 2 inhibitor –Vioxx was withdrawn after it was seen to cause more heart attacks.  Now the truth is finally starting to come that Prozac, which is an anti-depressant, causes an increase incidence of suicide rates among its uses by almost 1200%.

Every patient should be aware of his medications:

v  All patients should know the name of the medication, and its actions and side reactions.

v  Can he/she take it on empty stomach?

v   How long should the medication be taken? Some patients take the medicines well beyond the required date and this can cause drug toxicity.

v  Can the medication cause an allergic reaction? The answer is yes because all medications have the potential to cause allergic reactions at any time.

v  Some drugs interact with alcohol and cause reactions. Some medicines react adversely with food.  Sometimes, patients have to rest after taking a particular medication.

v  Should one expect side effects to every medication?  The answer is yes. Every medication has the potential to have side effects.

v  Some medications are unsafe during lactation or pregnancy.

v  Some medications especially injectable insulin should be stored in a fridge; otherwise, there is a loss of efficacy.

v  All patients should ask their doctors about drug-drug interactions if they are using multiple medications.

Conclusion:

It is impossible to compute the total number of deaths or morbidities due to drug reactions. The National Institute of Health (NIH, USA) estimates that the number of people with adverse drug reactions admitted to hospitals in the year 2006 was about 2.2 million. It is estimated that over 20 million unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions are written in the US alone.  The figures will be definitely worse in the third world. 

Drug interactions and reactions take millions of lives the world over, every year. Patients must wake up make informed choices and learn about their medications either from their physicians or by reading about the medication from the Internet.

SPIRITUALITY HELPS TO UNDERSTAND THE HUMAN MIND.

The Indian Spiritual scriptures are full of insights of what the mind is really made of and how to control it.  Ancient Indian seers realized that the mind is actually an instrument given by God to realize the ‘self’ or the soul within.  There is indeed a very close interaction with the mind and the body too.

 The mind is defined as a bundle of thoughts. Swami. Vivekananda has compared the mind to a monkey, which is innately restless; which is drunk, with the wine, and then possessed by a ghost and finally bitten by the scorpion. Such is the state of modern man. He is so intoxicated by worldly desires that he seldom experiences a moment of peace. His mind is constantly restless, inebriated by desires, lust, anger and greed.

The mind may be considered to be finer body inside the gross body.  That vibrates at a higher rate than the gross body.

Since the mind and the body are so closely interconnected, a disease of the body will naturally affect the mind and a disease of the mind will affect the body.  The ancient Indian seers were aware of the fact that the mind should be tamed, controlled and then annihilated for complete and comprehensive health and total self-realization.

The Indian seers believed that all the misery that is seen today was only as a result of the untamed mind.  They believed that MAN MINUS MIND WAS ACTUALLY EQUAL TO GOD.  They also believed and demonstrated through their life as a living example, that a self realized person, does not operate his life through his mind or intellect, but lives in a state of ever-new joy and spontaneity. By annihilating the mind, the person does not become a zombie, but actually becomes supremely intelligent, supremely successful and fulfilled in life. 

To experience mind control and experience a state of unalloyed bliss, the ancient Indian sages prescribed many spiritual disciplines, like yoga, meditation and pranayama.  These practices help the aspirant to experience mind control and become Holistically healthy.

Some useful Herbal remedies.

Introduction:

Herbal medicine (HM) is the fulcrum of complementary and alternative medicine. It is gaining increasingly popularity all over the world and gradually streaming toward integration into the mainstream healthcare systems. The use of HM cuts across gender, social and racial classes in both developing and developed countries of the world.

Benefits of Herbal Medicine

  • More affordable than conventional medicine
  • Easier to obtain than prescription medicine.
  • Stabilizes hormones and metabolism.
  • Natural healing.
  • Strengthens the immune system.

Echinacea:

Echinacea, also called purple coneflower, is one of the most popular herbs worldwide.  Native Americans have used it for centuries to treat various ailments.  It is best known as an over-the-counter herbal remedy for the common cold or flu.  However, it’s also used to treat pain, inflammation, migraines and other health issues. They’re linked to many health benefits, such as reduced inflammation, improved immunity and lower blood sugar levels.

Ginseng:

Ginseng has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries. Ginseng has beneficial antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Ginseng could help improve brain functions like memory, behavior and mood.  Research has shown that ginseng may be useful for the treatment of erectile dysfunction (ED) in men.  Some studies exploring its effects on the immune system have focused on cancer patients undergoing surgery or chemotherapy treatment. Ginseng may be helpful in reducing the risk of certain cancers. Ginseng has been shown to help fight fatigue and promote energy

Ginkgo biloba:

Ginkgo biloba, or maidenhair, is a tree native to China that has been grown for thousands of years for a variety of uses.  Ginkgo’s antioxidant content may be the reason behind many of its health claims. 

Some specific conditions in which ginkgo extract has shown to reduce inflammation include:

  • Arthritis
  • Irritable bowel disease (IBD)
  • Cancer
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke

Elderberry:

Elderberry is an ancient herbal medicine typically made from the cooked fruit of the Sambucus nigra plant. It has long been used to relieve headaches, nerve pain, toothaches, colds, viral infections, and constipation.

Elderberry is used to treat cold and flu symptoms. Cooked elderberry is safe; it’s toxic if eaten raw or unripe.

St. John’s wort;

St. John’s wort (SJW) is an herbal medicine derived from the flowering plant Hypericum perforatum. Its small, yellow flowers are commonly used to make teas, capsules, or extracts.  Historically, it was utilized to aid wound healing and alleviate insomnia, depression, and various kidney and lung diseases. Today, it’s largely prescribed to treat mild to moderate depression.

Turmeric (Curcuma longa):

Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is an herb that belongs to the ginger family.  Curcumin is the major active compound in turmeric. It may treat a host of conditions, including chronic inflammation, pain, metabolic syndrome, and anxiety

Ginger:

Ginger is a commonplace ingredient and herbal medicine. You can eat it fresh or dried, though its main medicinal forms are as a tea or capsule. Much like turmeric, ginger is a rhizome, or stem that grows underground. It contains a variety of beneficial compounds and has long been used in traditional and folk practices to treat colds, nausea, migraines, and high blood pressure

Valerian:

Sometimes referred to as “nature’s Valium,” valerian is a flowering plant whose roots are thought to induce tranquility and a sense of calm.  The valerian root may be dried and consumed in capsule form or steeped to make tea.

Chamomile:

Chamomile is a flowering plant that also happens to be one of the most popular herbal medicines in the world.  The flowers are most often used to make tea, but the leaves may also be dried and used for making tea, medicinal extracts, or topical compresses.

Conclusion:

Herbal medicines have become extremely popular all over the world. An important driver in this upsurge in patronage and use includes low cost, the wide acceptance due to its status of being a natural product with the acclaim of low toxicity, efficacy in certain challenging diseases, flexibility in its accessibility, preparation and use.