All posts by Dr. Rajesh Vishwanathan

About Dr. Rajesh Vishwanathan

Hi, I am Dr. Rajesh Vishwanathan. I am a Family Physician with a deep interest in Diabetes and Alternative Medicine. I live and practice in Mumbai, India. My aim is to make the world a better place by introducing Alternative medicine with the main stream, so as to have an Integrative System of Medicine, that is both gentle and holistic.

ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE AND NATURAL HEALING SCHOOLS.

Introduction:

In the late 1970’s, allopathic physicians foolishly believed that the war on the bugs was won. It was during this period, when there was spectacular development of new antibiotics like Doxycycline and a new class of antibiotics called as the Cephalosporins.  The World Health Organization was talking of a slogan, ‘ HEALTH FOR ALL BY THE YEAR 2000 A.D.’

Little did allopathic physicians realize that the bacteria and the viruses were hatching their own diabolical plan to make man helpless against their onslaught.  In the 1970’s complementary systems were generally looked down upon and Alternative therapy schools were few and far between and people looked down upon Alternative health practitioners..

President Richard Nixon’s visit to the US to China did sparkle  a brief interest in Acupuncture.  Then we had the devastating epidemic of HIV-AIDS in the 80’s. It was becoming evident that the sexually transmittable diseases were making a come back. There were other viruses such as SARS, Bird flu. The humble staphylococcus was becoming resistant to Vancomycin and new terms called as MRSA, ESBL’s,  VRE’s  became common words to describe these super bugs. It now seemed that medicine had turned around one full circle. Practitioners of medicine realized that they should also concentrate on the immunity of the community, instead of going after the bugs alone. Complementary medicine made a big come back in the late 80’s and 90’s.

Alternative medicine schools:

Alternative medicine schools or Naturopathic schools provide unique teaching methods that are not available in allopathic schools. These schools incorporate the Mind-Body and the Soul concept in their teaching.  They integrate divine, , and religious traditions, along with emerging complementary systems of medicine in their teaching curriculum.    Alternative medicine schools often include many alternative healing modalities such as; Ayurveda; homeopathy naturopathy;; acupuncture and acupressure; chiropractic; hydrotherapy; hypnotherapy; and many other Holistic therapies


It is well known that a disease is caused by a triad of factors;  THE AGENT (bug), THE HOST RESISTANCE AND ENVIRONMENTAL FACTORS.  The primary belief of holistic medicine schools is that the virus or the bug is not the cause of disease. They believe that diseases are caused as a consequence of the body’s reaction to the pathogen.  These practitioners focus on improving the person’s immunity to fight off disease.

Conclusion:

Various naturopathic medical schools teach natural healing methods that are effective in treating a wide array of major and minor medical conditions.  Medical research has proved that many of the complementary systems are indeed very effective.  It is seen that the demand for such schools and practitioners is growing.  Complementary  Medicine promotes patient empowerment and promotes health in a holistic way.  Alternative medicine schools also teach the value of good nutrition, supplemental vitamins and minerals.  It also promotes the use of herbal medicine.  More and more Alternative Medical Schools are springing up the world over and they offer a great career option to holistically minded students.

AUTO-URINE THERAPY.

Introduction:

The late Prime minister of India, Mr. Morarji Desai created quite a flutter, when he openly propagated drinking one’s own urine for good health. Since then, a lot of laboratories all over the world have been engaged in research to find out the efficacy of this therapy.

Historical and Religious Evidence:

Ayurvedic masters like, Sushrutha, Vagabhatta and Harita have explicitly extolled the medical virtues of auto-urine therapy. In the Damar Tantra, Lord Shiva has given a discourse to Devi Parvati about the benefits of drinking one’s own urine.

Dr. John Armstrong of the USA has claimed that even the Testament extorts people to drink their own urine. To quote – “Drink waters out of thine own cistern” – unquote.

Tibetan and Buddhists lamas live long and healthy lives by drinking their own urine.

It is well known that Gypsies, sailors, criminals and dacoits drink their own urine to maintain health and strength.

The chemical composition of urine:

Urine is rich is Urea nitrogen, urea, uric acid, amino nitrogen, minerals and trace elements, enzymes (amylase, lactic dehydrogenace, Urokinase), hormones and urobilinogen.

Auto-urine therapy may be useful:

  • Urine contains essential nutrients
  • It contains highly active enzymes such as; urokinase, that can burst clots in the heart and prevent heart attacks.
  • It contains valuable salts for the body.
  • It possesses anti-bacterial properties.
  • Increase the body immunity
  • Improve the kidney function
  • Confers longevity and good health and acts like an elixir for a healthy life.

Limitations of Auto Urine therapy:

  • It should be avoided in Diabetes Mellitus.
  • It should be avoided in all disorders where salt is contraindicated, example in severe hypertension.
  • It should not be used in Kidney failure.

Conclusion:

This therapy is extremely controversial. Many Allopathic physicians are skeptical about the benefits of Auto-urine therapy and they argue that urine is a substance that has been rejected by the body, so why drink it?  There are others who feel that urine may contain pathogenic bacteria.  There can be endless debates, but numbers of persons drinking their own urine is on the rise.

HOLISTIC HEALTH PRACTITIONERS.

Introduction:

The World Health Organisation states, “health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. In more recent years, this statement has been modified to include the ability to lead a “socially and economically productive life.” (ref: WHO definition of health)

But most experts argue that Health is not a state, but rather a spectrum, where one end of the spectrum is death and the other end of the spectrum is complete health.  Most of us tend to fluctuate into states that are in between the two stated extreme bands.

The interest in Holistic Medicine:

In recent years there has been a plethora of new diseases such as AIDS, other viral infections like SARS and BIRD FLU, an increase of Stress related diseases such as Diabetes, Coronary artery disease, and an ever increasing list of psychiatric illnesses.

Faced with ever increasing nuisances of modern day diseases, Allopathic as a system has been found woefully inadequate. Many patients feel that the allopathic physician is very impersonal and treats only a particular diseased organ instead of treating the patient as a whole entity.

Dissatisfied with the Allopathic system, more patients are seeking treatment outside the allopathic system and resorting to Alternative systems of medicine.

What is Holistic Medicine?

Holistic medicine is not a single system like the Allopathic system. It is a Complementary system of Medicine that aims to treat the individual as a whole; MIND BODY AND SOUL. Here the practitioner aims to treat the whole individual, rather than one diseased part of the body.

Holistic medicine is based on the premise that for a body to be healthy, the mind should be at in harmony and tranquil so that the soul force may express itself throughout the individual and result in positive and vibrant health.

Holistic Health Practitioner may combine, Nutritional therapy, massage therapy, counselling, herbs, reflexology, acupressure, yoga, Traditional Chinese Medicine, Homeopathy, Ayurveda, Reiki and many other holistic methods to gently ease the body into health from a diseased state.

The advantages that Holistic health practitioners offer:

  • The therapies are gentle and generally free from side effects.
  • There are a wide variety of therapies for the patients to choose from.
  • The body is cleansed of toxins.
  • The patient experiences a genuine sense of well being.
  • Most Holistic health practitioners are very attentive and take a detail history and the patients feel that they are being properly heard.
  • The patients feel better when they are treated as whole.

Conclusion:

Holistic Health practitioners are becoming more sought after the world over despite the ridicule they constantly face from their learned allopathic colleagues.  Unfortunately, more research has to be done to scientifically integrate the complementary systems with the mainstream orthodox system of medicine.

A HOLISTIC M.D.



Who is a holistic medical doctor MD?

A whole new breed of MD’s have sprung up in the west and they are trained doctors in orthodox medicine and with good skills in at least one type of Alternative medicine, which may be acupuncture, herbal medicine, homeopathy or Ayurveda.  These doctors help patients who wish to benefit from the aggressive technological advances of orthodox medicine with the gentle healing of the Complementary system.

The key philosophy of holistic medicine:


The fundamental premise of holistic medicine is that no one health care medical speciality has answers to the health syndromes of the 21st century.  Holistic medicine gladly embraces all the wisdom of age-old cultures, healing systems from the orient and also does not hesitate to use drastic measures of allopathic when deemed necessary.

 

Pre-therapy work up:
 
The Holistic MD will at first function like any other orthodox specialist.  He will take a detailed history and do a clinical examination, such as pulse, BP and a complete physical examination.  Then he will perform the diagnostic blood tests that any MD normally does.  The initial work up may last more than an hour and this helps both the physician and the patient to understand each other and develop trust for one another.
 

When a patient chooses a Holistic physician, he or she has the option of trying natural complementary therapies in tandem with the allopathic treatment and this helps in elimination of the toxins in the patient and leads him to a complete and comprehensive holistic cure.
Patients with intractable health issues often search for a physician because they believe in the power of the body to heal itself, but they also recognise the need a physician who can prescribe drugs if needed.
Other patients seek holistic cures because they have exhausted all the options of conventional medicine.  A holistic physician will be able to factor past therapies and then initiate a new health regimen to help patients improve their health through orthodox and alternative means.

A holistic physician may be useful any of these health problems:

  • Unexplained depressive disorders
  •  Ischaemic heart disease
  •  Certain forms of tumours
  •  HIV or AIDS (a palliative measure to increase the life span)
  • In high blood pressure
  • Infertility
  • Menopausal symptoms 
  •  Chronic prostate problems 
  •  In Type 2 diabetes mellitus.

Conclusion:

The holistic MD has to be devoted to treating the whole person: body, mind and spirit.  Treatments are always done in the best interest of the patient.  The doctor allows the patient to share in decision-making regarding treatment.  Their job is to educate patients and help empower them to take responsibility for their care.  The doctor acts responsibly in delivering both medical and alternative treatments. The Holistic doctor should not make outrageous claims or promise a “cure.”

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.

 

THE KARMA THEORY AND POSITIVE HEALTH.

The Karma theory is not merely about re-incarnation. It includes the whole gamut of situations and relationships that we encounter in this birth.  Many westerners believe that the ‘Karma theory’ has made us Indians fatalistic and materially backward.  While, this may be partly true, the ‘Karma theory’ has held Indian society together over the years.

In recent times we have forgotten the real meaning of this theory and that is why our health has deteriorated to its current levels.  Our statistics of Cancers, Coronary artery disease and Dyslipidemias are worse than the Western standards, ever since we became urbanized and industrialized. 

Very simplistically put, according to the ‘Karma theory’, when we die in our last birth, we are shown a review of our actions in that life and we are actually made to experience the pain that our actions caused to others.  UNABLE TO FORGIVE OURSELVES FOR WHAT WE HAVE DONE TO OTHERS, AND UNABLE TO FORGIVE OTHERS FOR WHAT THEY DID TO US IN OUR LAST BIRTH, it is we who tell God to give us another birth where we can atone for our wrong actions and take revenge on those who have hurt us.

So, in the truest sense, God is not the cause of our current state of misery in this life.   Our current life is AN AGREEMENT WITH GOD, MADE BY GOD AND US DOES NOT HAVE ANY PART IN OUR CHOICE.  When we are born again, we have no memory of our past life action. That is taken away from us.  It is only a few yogis who know there past lives and that of the others.

This theory is not something that we can dismiss as nonsense or irrelevant.  It helps us have a correct understanding of why we suffer and why certain relationships are doomed in failure. This theory makes us feel contented and we will not exult when things go right or experience depression when things go wrong.

A proper understanding of this theory can also serve as a medical tool to combat the increasing numbers of ‘STRESS RELATED DISEASES’.

MELATONIN – THE NATURAL NIGHTCAP!

Introduction:

Melatonin is a hormone secreted by the pineal gland, a pea sized structure that is located in the center of the brain.  At night Melatonin is produced to help our bodies regulate the sleep-wake cycles.  The amount of Melatonin produced by our bodies seems to lessen, as we get older.  Scientists believe that this may be why old people have problems of falling asleep.

The uses of Melatonin:

  • It is useful to hasten sleep and combat jet lag, without having the side effects of conventional sleeping pills.
  • It strengthens the Immune system.
  • It delays degenerative changes in the body.
  • It has an anti-oxidant effect, which is useful to prevent strokes, coronary artery disease and cancer.
  • It is useful to combat fatigue.
  • It is said to prevent aging.
  • It is said to enhance the testosterone levels in males, thus making them more sexually active in their later years.

Side effects of Melatonin:

  • Some persons complain of nightmares.
  • Headaches.
  • Morning grogginess.
  • Mild depression.
  • Low sex drive.

Who should avoid it?

  • It should not be given to pregnant or lactating mothers, as it might affect the fetus.
  • It should not be given to people with severe allergies.
  • It should not be used in patients with Auto- immune diseases or with Leukemia.
  • It should not be administered to children.

Dosage of Melatonin:

The dosage varies enormously from person to person and successful results have been obtained with doses ranging from 1 mg to 200 mg. It is best that this drug be started in a low dosage and then worked up to larger doses to get the optimal effects.

It should be taken only at nighttime, usually about 30 minutes prior going to bed.  If a person sleeps at night, then Melatonin should not be taken during the day and vice versa – because Melatonin plays a role in setting the body’s daily clock.

Is Melatonin safe?

Melatonin is one of the least toxic substances known. People have taken as much as 6 grams (600 to 3000 times the normal dose) and carefully monitored studies have shown no sign of toxicity. The only consistent side effect has been drowsiness and a slower reaction time. In the most extensive clinical trial 75 mgs of Melatonin per day was given to 1400 women in the Netherlands for up to four years and no untoward side effects were noted. In the US, FDA reports indicate that there have been no alarming side effects, despite the fact that this medication is available as an ‘over the counter remedy’.

Conclusion:

In India, flight crews are conversant with this drug and use it regularly to combat jet lag. Some of the claims that Melatonin retards the aging process have been debunked.  But, it would good if it would be made available over the counter remedy in India, as it could be safer than commonly used medications, such as Calmpose or Valium.