Monthly Archives: January 2021

Integration of Complementary Therapies in Geriatric Care.


Introduction:

Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) is catching the attention of older adults and health care givers alike. Complementary medicine often is gentler, safer and addresses the health conditions of the elderly in a holistic manner. All Alternative therapy practitioners aim to encourage good health practices in their elderly patients so that the immunity is boosted, healing ability of the body is strengthened and the elder are benefited way beyond mere symptom management.

Often, the Alternative therapists act like friends, philosophers and guides to the elderly and care for their body, mind and soul.  Alternative therapists spend more time with their patients and give them the attention that the elderly lack.  They encourage self-care, provide knowledge, skills and the encouragement the elderly need during illness.

Alternative therapies are not without risks in the elderly:

Complementary therapies can sometimes be risky in the elderly.

  • An injudicious choice of herbal remedies can create a host of problems for the elderly. The pharmaco-kinetics of herbs can be extremely unpredictable in the elderly.
  • There could be herb-to-herb interactions.
  • Some elderly patients can develop what is called as ‘Serotonin Syndrome’ while taking St. John’s wort.  St. John’s wort is a commonly used herbal anti-depressant. The symptoms of the ‘Serotonin Syndrome’ mimic an infection and thus can be mistreated.
  • Ginseng a very popular rejuvenation tonic can cause a potentially life threatening skin rash called as Steven-Johnson syndrome.
  • Ginkgo biloba, which is used in the elderly for memory loss has anti-coagulant like effects.
  • Massage and manipulation therapies are very dangerous and can lead to severe sprains or even fractures in the elderly because they have a poor muscle mass and osteoporosis.
  • Sometimes, the vital force of the elderly patients is low and trying Complementary medicines such as Homeopathy may be fruitless and frustration both for the patient and the physician.
  • Spiritual healing is another controversial subject. Sometimes Christian patients take offense to Hindu Reiki practitioners and vice versa. So great care should be taken in choosing a therapist, so that we do not hurt the spiritual sentiments of the elderly patients.

Conclusion:

It is very important to find out if the elderly patients are taking any complementary therapy before starting another one for them. Elderly patients often have very poor memories and extra efforts must be made to elicit a proper history. Extra time must also be spent if some pharmacological prescriptions are written and care should be taken to see that the proper dose is taken at the proper time.

Time must be spent explaining about possible side effects.  Often, the elderly are in touch with similarly afflicted patients of their age and may have surfed the Internet and they may have erroneous beliefs. The Alternative therapist should take all the precaution and make every effort to answer all questions sincerely, as truthfully and tactfully as possible.

Some of the elderly may not have adequate insurance or financial resources and in these cases every effort must be taken to prescribe safer and cheaper medications.

Navigating thorough the maze of Alternative therapy options can be very challenging both for the physician and the elderly patient with multiple health conditions. Both the Alternative physician and the patient should realize that they should adopt a flexible approach and weigh the pros and cons of conventional versus Complementary therapy so that the most appropriate system of medicine is used at the most appropriate time during the care of the geriatric patient.

References:

McCaleb RS, Leigh E, Morien K. The Encyclopedia of Popular Herbs: Your Complete Guide to the Leading Medicinal Plants. Roseville, Calif: Prima Publishing; 2000.

Krohn J, Taylor FA. Finding the Right Treatment. Modern and Alternative Medicine: A Comprehensive Reference Guide That Will Help You Get the Best of Both Worlds. Point Roberts, Wash: Hartley & Marks Publishers; 2002.

Huebscher R, Shuler PA. Natural, Alternative, and Complementary Health Care Practices. St. Louis: Mosby; 2004.

www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov.

www.medscape.com.

Celebrities are turning into Vegetarians and Vegans.

Introduction:

Did you know that several celebrities are vegetarians or vegans? Some of the famous vegans are Alicia Silverstone, Brian Adams, Eric Roberts the actor, Fiona Apple the singer, Nick Rhodes of Duran Duran and Natalie Portman the famous actor.

Some of most famous vegetarians include Albert Einstein; Aristotle the famous Greek philosopher, Billie Jean King and Chris Evert the famous tennis stars of the yesteryears, Dr. Dean Ornish and many others.

 One the most articulate advocates of vegetarianism is Tobey Maguire and he said that, ’I don’t like eating dead carcasses pumped full of chemicals and hormones. It’s not a moral thing. It’s logical to me not to eat that shit, since I would get nauseated.’  Tobey Maguire doesn’t mince words when it comes to his food and lifestyle choices

With more and more studies coming out in recent times supporting a vegetarian way of life, the eternal debate rages on whether vegetarianism is indeed superior to a non-vegetarian diet.

Types of vegetarians:

There are three types of vegetarian:

  1. The Vegans are the strictest type of vegetarians and they will not eat animal food or produce. They live entirely on plant foods. They take pulses, nuts, grains, fruits and vegetables. 
  2.  Vegetarian who drink milk and eggs. These are called, asLacto-Vegetarians will not eat animal flesh. They will, however, eat animal produce such as milk, cheese, eggs and four main groups.
  3. Vegetarians who take eggs only.  These are called asLacto-ovo-vegetarians will not eat animal flesh but will eat eggs in their diet.

Advantages of a vegetarian diet:

  • Vegetarian diets are high in: vitamin C, fiber and folate.
  • Vegetarian diets are low in: calcium, protein, iron, zinc and vitamin B-12
  • It is possible to obtain all essential nutrients by eating a completely plant-based diet; however proper dietary planning is critical to the health.
  • Vegetarian diets are typically higher in fiber, lower in fat, saturated fat and cholesterol.
  • Vegetarians typically have less risk of CHD, cancer, obesity, high cholesterol and hypertension.
  • Vegetarian lifestyles are usually healthier because of lesser smoking, more exercise and less alcohol ingestion.

Disadvantages of a vegetarian diet:

Some nutritional authorities feel that Vegetarians (vegans) find it difficult to get certain nutrients like:

  • Vitamin B-12. These are found more in fortified cereals and soy products
  • Vitamin D.  Soymilk and cereals are rich sources.
     
  • Iron & zinc. These are found in whole grain, soy foods, beans, dried foods, nuts and seeds.

  • Calcium. Good sources are cereals, juices, beans, tofu, soy foods, figs and other dried fruits.


Conclusion:

Slowly the wheel is turning in favor of vegetarianism.  According to a statistics from the recentConsumer Attitudes to Food Standards Survey, 4% of households reportedly contained at least one vegetarian member. 5% contained at least one person who ate no meat, but did eat fish.

Some authorities on nutrition do not recommend a vegan diet for very young children because it is very difficult for them consume pulses, cereals nuts etc and achieve optimal growth without consuming animal products.

FACTS ABOUT NUTRITION IN MEAT.

Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances for survival of life on earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet. — Albert Einstein

Introduction:

The facts supporting vegetarianism are overwhelming. Some health authorities feel that one-day humankind will wake up and will look back in horror at their own carnivorous and murderous habits. Animal eating is considered just one step below cannibalism.

Some interesting facts:

  • In 1961, the “Journal of the American Medical Association” reported that a vegetarian diet could prevent 90-97% of heart diseases.
  • Studies reveal 59% less cancer among people who eat small amounts of meat, compared to average meat-eaters.  (Imagine how much better those figures would be when compared to vegetarians.)
  • Scotland has the highest rate of bowel cancer in the world and they eat 20% more meat than the English.
  • The kidneys of the meat-eater must work three times harder than the kidneys of the vegetarian.
  • Although meat needs to pass through the digestive tract quickly, it takes four times longer than grains or vegetables.
  • During World War I, Norway and Denmark could not get meat. The death rate dropped 17% and then returned to normal when they returned to their meat diets.
  • The American National Institute of Health, in a study of 50,000 vegetarians, found that they live longer, have far less heart disease, and a much lower cancer rate compared to meat-eaters.1
  • In England, vegetarians pay less for life insurance.
  • Studies show that vegetarians are stronger, more agile, have greater endurance, and recover from fatigue faster than meat-eaters.
  • A Yale University study revealed that vegetarians have nearly twice the stamina of meat-eaters.2
  • Cornell University announced through major newspapers in May of 1990, “Humans are natural vegetarians.” The report said: “Animal foods, in general, are not really helpful and we need to get away from eating them.”  “In addition to reducing the risk of heart disease, low cholesterol also protects against colon cancer, the most common life-threatening cancer among Americans.”
  • World starvation is well connected to meat-eating habits. If Americans stopped feeding grain to cattle, the excess grain could feed 500 million people (not to mention the land that could be used to grow food instead of being used for grazing cattle). When people see those programs on TV about all the starving children, they should consider that their diets are a contributing factor. 

Even milk is under the scanner:

Contrary to popular beliefs, pasteurized milk, like meat, drains the body of alkaline and electrolyte minerals.  Milk that has been cooked (pasteurized) takes more calcium to digest than it gives back!

Conclusion:

Recognize meat for what it really is:  the antibiotic- and pesticide-laden corpse of a tortured animal.  ~Ingrid Newkirk, National Director of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals

Gleaned from:

Chemistry of Food and Nutrition, by Sherman, H., Macmillan Co., NY 1952, pg. 208.

The Science of Nutrition, Sherman, H., Columbia University Press, NY, 1943, pg. 177-198

The importance of sunshine in your life.

“Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air…”
 Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Introduction:

North of the equator, where sunshine is poor during prolonged winter periods, researchers estimate that increasing intake of vitamin D3 could prevent 250,000 cases of colorectal cancer and 350,000 cases of breast cancer worldwide.

According to Philippe Autier, MD, and Sara Gandini, PhD, from the International Agency for Research on Cancer in Lyon, France said that,  “Ecological and observational studies suggest that low vitamin D status could be associated with higher mortality from life-threatening conditions including cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes mellitus that account for 60% to 70% of total mortality in high-income countries.

It a statistical observation that over 600,000 cases of breast and colorectal cancers could be prevented each year, if vitamin D3 levels among populations worldwide were increased. (Source: researchers from the Moores Cancer Center at the University of California, San Diego – UCSD).
That means that nearly 150,000 cases of cancer that could be prevented in the United States alone.

To increase your vitamin D3 levels, the researchers recommended a combination of dietary methods, supplements and sunlight exposure of about 10 to 15 minutes a day, with at least 40 percent of your skin exposed.

Vitamin D:

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, which behaves like a hormone, regulating the formation of bone and the absorption of calcium and phosphorus from the intestine. It helps to control the movement of calcium between bone and blood, and vice versa.

In infancy and childhood, deficiency of vitamin D causes the deformed bones characteristic of rickets.  In adults a lack of the vitamin causes a softening of the bones known as osteomalacia.  Deficiency is seen more often in northern countries, or where tradition dictates that the body is well covered by clothes, Deficiency is also common among women in the parts of the Islamic world, where the burqua or the veil is a custom.

An excess of the vitamin can cause loss of appetite, weight loss, nausea, headache, depression and deposits of calcium in the kidneys.

Requirements For Vitamin D:

It has been found that bone loss in post menopause women occurs mostly in the winter due to falling levels of vitamin D products in the blood.  A winter intake from fortified foods or supplements is strongly recommended to promote bone health. Winter intakes of about 15µg (micrograms) per day appear to be enough to prevent bone loss

Vegans and Vitamin D.
 Vegans usually obtain vitamin D from the action of sunlight on the skin or by taking fortified foods such as Soya milk, margarine), breakfast cereals and vitamin supplement, which are made from yeast or other fungi.  Bright sunlight is not essential for Vitamin D synthesis by the body.  Even sunshine on a cloudy summer day will stimulate formation of some D in the skin, while a short summer holiday in the open air will increase blood levels of the vitamin by two or three times the amount.

Vegans generally obtain adequate amounts of Vitamin D, if they spend time outdoors in spring, summer and autumn. In winter, vegans can increase their Vitamin D levels by natural fortified supplements.  Vegan women who are breast-feeding should ensure that they take foods rich in vitamin D.

References and Links:

Arch Intern Med. 2007; 167:1709-1710, 1730-1737.

www.medscape.com.

 www.mercola.com.

www.vegansociety.com.