Onion a Day Keeps Hay Fever Away

Onion may hold the key to beating hay fever, says a new study.
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Dutch researchers say onion skins contain quercetin, a potent natural anti-histamine and anti-inflammatory shown to help hay fever sufferers.

According to the British Onion Producers’ Association, onions contain three times as much quercetin as kale – the next-richest source – and 10 times as much as broccoli, reports The Daily Express.

Allergic rhinitis triggered by the pollens of specific seasonal plants is commonly known as “hay fever”, because it is most prevalent during haying season.

Although hay fever can not spread from person to person the symptoms can pass from person to person and it is the biggest cause of sick leave in the US and the UK.

Sources: The Times Of India


The Amazing properties of Onion

It is not a Vague story… but Fact.

A friend of mine told me a story about  when he was a kid he was in the hospital & nearly dying.  His grandmother came to the hospital & told a family member to go buy her a large onion & a new pair of white cotton socks.  She sliced the onion open then put a slice on the bottom of each of his feet & put the white cotton socks on him.  In the morning when he awoke they removed the socks.  The slices of onion were black & his fever was gone.  The following story that someone sent to me might have some truth in it & we are going to try it this winter.

In 1919 when the flu killed 40 million people there was this Doctor that visited the many farmers to see if he could help them combat the flu.  Many of the farmers and their family had contracted it and many died.

The doctor came upon this one farmer and to his surprise, everyone was very healthy.  When the doctor asked what the farmer was doing that was different the wife replied that she had placed an unpeeled onion in a dish in the rooms of the home, (probably only two rooms back then). The doctor couldn’t believe it and asked if he could have one of  the onions and place it under the microscope.  She gave him one and when he did this, he did find the flu virus in the onion.  It obviously absorbed the bacteria, therefore, keeping the family healthy.

Now, I heard this story from my hairdresser in AZ. She said that several years ago many of her employees were  coming down with the flu and so were many of her customers.  The next year she placed several bowls with  onions around in her shop. To her surprise, none of  her staff got sick.  It must work.. (And no, she is not in the onion business)

The moral of the story is, buy some onions and place them in bowls around your home.  If you work at a desk, place one or two in your office or under your desk or even on top somewhere.  Try it and see what happens.  We did it last year and we never got the flu.

For flu cure:
Cut both ends off an onion put one end on a fork and then place the forked end into an empty jar… placing the jar next to the sick patient at night.  It is said, the onion would be black in the morning from the germs… sure enough it happened just like that… the onion was a mess and I began to feel better.

Onions and garlic placed around the room saved many from the black plague years ago. They have powerful antibacterial, antiseptic properties.

One more thing, never store cut onions and consume the next day!
They will have more bacteria to do harm than to do good

A Bowl of Corn Flakes Better Than Costly Sports Drinks

Eating a bowl of cereal beats guzzling an expensive sports drink after a workout, say scientists.

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Revitalising: Cereal and milk is better for muscle rebuilding than sports drinks after a workout, say scientists

A study of athletes found the breakfast snack was at least as good, if not better, at revitalising muscles.

As part of the research, eight men and four women fasted for 12 hours and cycled for two hours, then immediately refuelled with a sports drink.

Five days later they repeated the fasting and exercise, then ate a wholewheat flake cereal with a splash of skimmed milk instead.
Exercise physiologist Lynne Kammer said: ‘We found cereal and milk was good for protein synthesis, or muscle rebuilding, after exercise.

‘Because of the protein in the milk you would expect to see this.

But what was most surprising was the lactate in the blood, which causes muscles to stiffen, was greatly reduced after consuming the cereal and milk as compared to the sports drink.’

The researchers said this was because the cereal raised levels of insulin, which converts sugar to energy, and blunted the production of lactate.

The scientists, from Texas University, found both the snack and energy drink replenished depleted glycogen – a fuel the body uses during exercise. But the cereal encouraged greater glycogen storage.

Miss Kammer, whose findings are published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, said: ‘Cereal and milk is a less expensive option than sports drinks. The milk provides a source of easily digestible and high-quality protein, making this an attractive recovery option for those who refuel at home.’

Sources:Mail On Line.14Th.May’09

Vitamin E, C Supplements Reduce Exercise Benefits

A new study suggests that some vitamin supplements may reduce some of the beneficial effects of exercise.

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Michael Ristow, of the University of Jena in Germany, has shown that antioxidant supplements like vitamin C or E can interfere with the benefits of exercising.

Previous studies have also revealed that taking antioxidants may hasten death through an unknown mechanism.

One possibility, according to the researcher, is that they interfere with the beneficial effects of exercise, as there are hints that free radicals might be used by the body to prevent cellular damage after exercise.

During the study, the researchers recruited 40 volunteers. Half of them were asked to take 1000 milligrams of vitamin C and 400 international units of vitamin E per day – equivalent to amounts in some vitamin supplements.

The volunteers were also asked to exercise for 85 minutes a day, five days a week, for four weeks.

The researchers found that muscle biopsies showed a two-fold increase in a marker of free radicals called TBARS (thiobarbituric acid-reactive substances) in those volunteers who didn’t take antioxidants

However, they found no increase in those who did take the supplements – suggesting that they were indeed mopping them up.

Ristow pointed out that exercise is well known to have a beneficial effect on insulin resistance – a precursor condition to type 2 diabetes.

However, when the team measured the effects of exercise on insulin sensitivity, they found no increase in those volunteers taking antioxidants, but a significant increase in those who didn’t take the supplements.

“These data are fully in accord with recent work on the actions of reactive oxygen species in cells, although clearly at odds with the popular concept that dietary antioxidants are inevitably beneficial,” New Scientist magazine quoted Malcolm Jackson at the University of Liverpool, UK, who was not involved in the research as saying.

In fact, in this case, “antioxidants are preventing the health effects of exercise,” said Ristow,

He, however, cautions that not all vitamin supplements contain such high doses of vitamin C and E.

The study appears in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

It’s Not That We Have a Short Time to Live, But That We Waste a Lot of It

On The Shortness of Life” is one of Lucius Seneca’s most famous letters. It’s valuable to read it whenever you feel the urge to succumb to social pressure and treat time as less valuable than income. Time is non-renewable, and “On The Shortness of Life” helps put this in a practical context, as relevant now as it was nearly 2,000 years ago.

 

Seneca says, “It is not that we have a short space of time, but that we waste much of it. Life is long enough, and it has been given in sufficiently generous measure to allow the accomplishment of the very greatest things if the whole of it is well invested.”

The full letter is contained in the link below. For a quick 4-minute overview, you can read the bolded passages. But it’s worthwhile to read the entire piece on a slow evening. Each person identifies with different passages.

The letter is posted by Tim Ferriss, author of the bestselling book, The 4-Hour Workweek. If you’re looking for more tips on how to make the most of your life, I highly recommend picking up a copy. This book has had a MAJOR impact on my own life, and I suspect it will have a positive influence on yours as well.

Sources: Four Hour Work Week April 26, 2009

You may click to see also:->
*Do What You Love: Time is Too Short to do Anything Else
*Stealing Time for Yourself: Six Ways to Find the Time You Need to Change Your Life
A Different Take on Death From Carl Jung

Greeting the Divine Spirit


Bowing

Bowing is a universal gesture of respect and reverence. In many cultures, it is the predominant form of social greeting, and most religions incorporate it into their rituals of worship. In many cases, bowing signifies not only respect but also an acknowledgment of the shared divinity between the bower and the recipient. Bowing can also be a turning in toward our own divinity when we bow our heads in prayer, contemplation, or meditation. Bows range in form from a slight forward nod of the head to a full body prostration on the ground, and range in meaning from a simple greeting to a complete giving over of the self to the divine.

If you have ever bowed or been on the receiving end of a bow, you know that it is different from a handshake or a hug. Bowing has the quality of consciously evoking spirit and conveys a sense of reverence for the people involved. The word “Namaste,” which accompanies bowing in yoga, actually translates as “The divine spirit in me acknowledges the divine spirit in you.” When we greet one another with this kind of awareness, we can’t help but be more conscious that we are deeply connected to one another and to everyone, because this divine spirit resides in all of us.

There are simple bows and complicated bows, and subtle variations carry different meanings depending upon where you are, who you are, and a number of other factors. But we can all practice bowing by simply bringing our two hands together in prayer and pressing the thumb side of our hands lightly into our chests. Keeping a long spine, simply bend your head gently down so that you are looking at the tops of your fingers. Close your eyes and breathe consciously, paying homage to your spirit, the same spirit that resides within all of humanity.

Sources
: Daily Om

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Folic Acid Food Cuts Birth Defects

Fortifying flour and pasta products with folic acid appears to cut the number of babies born with congenital heart disease, the most common   of all birth defects, Canadian researchers said on Tuesday.

While food fortification is not mandatory in Europe, a 1998 Canadian requirement has led to a 6 percent drop each year in the number of such defects in Quebec, they reported in the British Medical Journal.

“These findings support the hypothesis that folic acid has a preventive effect on heart defects,” Louise Pilote of McGill University in Montreal and colleagues wrote. “Public health measures to increase folic acid intake were followed by a decrease in the birth prevalence of severe congenital heart defects.”

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Currently 67 countries fortify wheat flour, 47 of them by mandate, Helena Gardiner of Imperial College in London and Jean-Claude Fouron of CHU Sainte-Justine University Hospital Centre in Montreal noted in an editorial. Folic acid helps the body make healthy new cells.

It is important that women get enough of it before and during a pregnancy to prevent major birth defects involving a baby’s brain or spine. Leafy green vegetables, fruits, dried beans peas and nuts contain folic acid. It can be added to grain products or taken as a dietary supplement.

Even with fortification, many women do not get enough folic acid. In their study, Pilote and colleagues identified all infants born in Quebec with severe congenital heart defects between 1990 and 2005.

Their analysis showed no change in how many babies were born with severe heart defects in the nine years before fortification. But there was a 6 percent decrease annually for each of the seven years after fortification began.

The dip may seem modest but given the complex treatment for the often fatal heart defects, even a small reduction can significantly reduce costs health care costs, the researchers said.


Sources
:The Times Of India

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Endometrial Biopsy

Introduction:An endometrial biopsy is a way for your doctor to take a small sample of the lining of the uterus (endometrium). The sample is looked at under a microscope for abnormal cells. An endometrial biopsy helps your doctor find any problems in the endometrium. It also lets your doctor check to see if your body’s hormone levels that affect the endometrium are in balance.

Doctors take biopsies of areas that look abnormal and use them to detect cancer, precancerous cells, infections, and other conditions. For some biopsies, the doctor inserts a needle into the skin and draws out a sample; in other cases, tissue is removed during a surgical procedure.

The lining of the uterus changes throughout a woman’s menstrual cycle. Early in the menstrual cycle, the lining grows thicker until a mature egg is released from an ovary (ovulation). If the egg is not fertilized by a sperm, the lining is shed during normal menstrual bleeding.

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There are several ways to do an endometrial biopsy. Your doctor may use:

*A soft, straw-like device (pipelle) to suction a small sample of lining from the uterus. This method is fast and is not very painful.

*A sharp-edged tool called a curette. Your doctor will scrape a small sample and collect it with a syringe or suction. This is called a dilation and curettage (D&C). A D&C may be done to control heavy uterine bleeding (hemorrhage) or to help find the cause of bleeding. This is done with general or regional anesthesia.

*An electronic suction device (Vabra aspiration). This method can be uncomfortable.

*A spray of liquid (jet irrigation) to wash off some of the tissue that lines the uterus. A brush may be used to remove some of the lining before the washing is done.

When a woman is having a hard time becoming pregnant, an endometrial biopsy may be done to see whether the lining of her uterus can support a pregnancy.

An endometrial biopsy may also be done to find the cause of abnormal uterine bleeding, to check for overgrowth of the lining (endometrial hyperplasia), or to check for cancer.

An endometrial biopsy is sometimes done at the same time as another test, called hysteroscopy, which allows your doctor to look through a small lighted tube at the lining of the uterus.

Why It Is Done
An endometrial biopsy is done to:

*Check for cancer. For example, an endometrial biopsy may be done to help determine the cause of some abnormal Pap test results.
*Find the cause of heavy, prolonged, or irregular uterine bleeding. It is often done to find the cause of uterine bleeding in women who have gone through menopause.

*See whether the lining of the uterus (endometrium) is going through the normal menstrual cycle changes.

How To Prepare
Tell your doctor if you:

*Are or might be pregnant. An endometrial biopsy is not done during pregnancy.

*Are taking any medicines.

*Are allergic to any medicines.

*Have had bleeding problems or take blood-thinners, such as aspirin or warfarin (Coumadin).

*Have been treated for a vaginal, cervical, or pelvic infection.

*Have any heart or lung problems.
Do not douche, use tampons, or use vaginal medicines for 24 hours before the biopsy. You will empty your bladder just before your biopsy.

If you are not bleeding heavily, you might want to take an NSAID medicine such as ibuprofen one to two hours before the test, to reduce the possibility of uterine cramps during the procedure. Ask your physician for a recommendation ahead of time.

You will need to sign a consent form that says you understand the risks of an endometrial biopsy and agree to have the test done. Talk to your doctor about any concerns you have regarding the need for the test, its risks, how it will be done, or what the results may mean. To help you understand the importance of this test, fill out the medical test information form (What is a PDF document?) .

If you are having a dilation and curettage (D&C) and will go to sleep (general anesthesia) for the test, do not eat or drink anything for 8 hours before the test. If you are taking any medicines, ask your doctor what medicines you can take the day of the test.

How It Is Done
An endometrial biopsy is usually done by a gynecologist, a family medicine physician, or a nurse practitioner who has been trained to do the test. The sample will be looked at by a pathologist. The biopsy can be done in your doctor’s office.

Your cervix may be numbed with a spray or injection of local anesthetic.

You will need to take off your clothes below the waist. You will be given a covering to drape around your waist. You will then lie on your back on an examination table with your feet raised and supported by foot rests (stirrups).

Your doctor will put an instrument with smooth, curved blades (speculum) into your vagina. The speculum gently spreads apart the vaginal walls so your doctor can see inside the vagina and the cervix. See a picture of a pelvic examination with a speculum. The cervix is washed with a special solution and may be grasped and held in place with a clamp called a tenaculum.

The tool to collect the sample is guided through the cervix into the uterus. The tool may be moved up and down to collect the sample. Most women have some cramping during the biopsy.

An endometrial biopsy takes 5 to 15 minutes.

Dilation and curettage (D&C)
A D&C is usually done in a hospital or clinic. Most women do not need to stay overnight but can go home the same day.

Your doctor will put an instrument with smooth, curved blades (speculum) into your vagina. The speculum gently spreads apart the vaginal walls so your doctor can see inside the vagina and the cervix. Your cervix will be gently spread open (dilated). Depending on the reason for the D&C, your doctor may use a tool called a hysteroscope to look inside the uterus. A small spoon-shaped instrument (curette) is then guided through the cervix and into the uterus. The top layer of the lining of the uterus is carefully scraped off and removed (along with any other tissue that looks abnormal) for biopsy.

If you have general anesthesia, you will be watched by a nurse in the recovery room until you are fully awake.

You can do most of your normal activities in a few days. Do not lift anything heavy for a few days after the test. Do not douche or have sex for one week after the test.

How It Feels
If you have not had any pain medicine, you may feel a sharp cramp as the tool is guided through your cervix. You may feel more cramping when the biopsy sample is collected. Most women find that the cramping feels like a really bad menstrual cramp.

Some women feel dizzy and sick to their stomachs. This is called a vasovagal reaction. This feeling will go away after the biopsy.

An endometrial biopsy usually causes some vaginal bleeding. You can use a pad for the bleeding or spotting.

Dilation and curettage (D&C)
If general anesthesia is used during a D&C, you will be asleep and feel nothing. After the test, you will feel sleepy for a few hours. You may be tired for a few days after the test. You may also have a mild sore throat if a tube (endotracheal tube, or ET) was placed in your throat to help you breathe during the test. Using throat lozenges and gargling with warm salt water may help relieve your sore throat.

Risks Factors:
You might have pelvic cramps (sometimes intense) during the procedure and sometimes for a day or two afterward; you may also experience a small amount of vaginal bleeding. It is extremely rare to have heavy bleeding or to develop an infection that needs treatment.There is also a small risk of disturbing a very early pregnancy. To guard against this, your doctor might order a pregnancy test before performing the biopsy.

After the test:
You may feel some soreness in your vagina for a day or two. Some vaginal bleeding or discharge is normal for up to a week after a biopsy. You can use a sanitary pad for the bleeding. Do not do strenuous exercise or heavy lifting for one day after your biopsy. Do not douche. You may have to avoid sex or using tampons for several days. Ask your doctor when you can have sex or use tampons again.

Follow any instructions your doctor gave you. Call your doctor if you have:

*Heavy vaginal bleeding (more than a normal menstrual period).

*A fever.

*Belly pain.

*Bad-smelling vaginal discharge.

Results:
Time to know the results:
An endometrial biopsy is a way for your doctor to take a small sample of the lining of the uterus (endometrium). Lab results from a biopsy may take several days to get back.


Endometrial biopsy  Normal
: No abnormal cells or cancer is found. For women who have menstrual cycles, the lining of the uterus is at the right stage for the time in the menstrual cycle when the biopsy was done.

Endometrial biopsy  Abnormal:

*A noncancerous (benign) growth, called a polyp, is present.

*Overgrowth of the lining of the uterus (endometrial hyperplasia) is present.

*Cell changes that may lead to cancer are present.

For women who have menstrual cycles, the lining of the uterus is not at the right stage for the time in the menstrual cycle when the biopsy was done. More tests may be needed.

Resources:
https://www.health.harvard.edu/fhg/diagnostics/endometrial-biopsy.shtml
http://women.webmd.com/endometrial-biopsy

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Black Haw

Botanical Name :Viburnum prunifolium
Family: Caprifoliaceae
Synonyms: black haw bark, sweet viburnum, stag bush, American sloe
Common Name: blackhaw viburnum
Order: : Caprifoliaceae
Parts used: Bark, root bark.

Habitat: Native to eastern and central North America

Description:
Black haw is usually grown as a large, upright, multi-stemmed, deciduous shrub with an irregular crown, but it also may be grown as a small, single trunk tree. As a shrub, it typically grows 12-15′ tall with a spread of 6-12′, but as a tree may reach a height of 30′. A Missouri native plant which commonly occurs in moist woods, thickets and on streambanks throughout the State. Non-fragrant white flowers in flat-topped cymes (to 4.5″ diameter) appear in spring.

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Flowers give way in autumn to blue-black, berry-like drupes which often persist into winter and are quite attractive to birds and wildlife. Ovate, finely toothed, glossy dark green leaves (to 4″ long) turn attractive shades of red and purple in fall. Fruits are edible and may be eaten off the bush when ripe or used in jams and preserves. Common name refers to the purported similarity of this plant to hawthorns (sometimes commonly called red haws), though hawthorns are in a different family.

Constituents : Black haw contains triterpenoids, coumarins, bitter principle, valerianic acid, salicosides, tannin.

Medicinal Uses:
The black haw has been traditionally used in a number of ways by the Native Americans, the stem of the plant were used to make baskets, while the berries were turned into a kind of jam. Fertility was believed to be boosted by the plant, and to increase a slave woman’s ability to bear more children, many Southern slave owners used to coerce their female slaves to eat the black haw berries – the idea being to make her bear more children. The supposed ability of the herb to boost fertility in women is even mentioned in the old clinical text called the Kings American Dispensatory, this 19th-century medical text was extensively used by medical doctors of that era, in this text, a group of doctors called the Eclectic movement state various uses of the herb to boost fertility and to preclude abortion in women, it is written:” It was customary for planters to compel female slaves to drink an infusion of black haw daily whilst pregnant to prevent abortion”- thus the plant was believed to control fertility and the reproductive functions of women.

It is also known that long before the colonization of North America by Europeans, in many indigenous Native American cultures, the women traditionally made use of the black haw plant for medicinal purposes – using a wide variety of herbal remedies made from different parts of the plant. In many North American cultures, the physical symptoms associated with menopause and the symptoms of menstrual cramps in women were treated by drinks of a decoction prepared from the bark of the black haw plant, the bark decoction was also used in the prevention of miscarriages and to ease the intense pains following labor during the birth of a child. Disorders of the blood and problems such as migraines were also traditionally treated using species of plants related to the black haw. As Europeans came to the continent, they learnt the value of the black haw from natives, and used it in many remedial applications; the black haw was very highly regarded as a remedy by the Eclectics, mentioned before. For example, internal irritation in the womb is alleviated by the remedies made from black haw bark, in women with a history of difficult pregnancies; the herbal remedy made from this plant is therefore a useful and very potent ally in dealing with various symptoms. The presence of a particular helpful chemical known to be a uterine relaxing agent called scopoletin confirms the validity of its traditional use in this role to some extent. Many modern herbalists still swear by the remedial properties of the black haw bark.

As an herbal remedy, the strong astringent and anti-spasmodic effects of the black haw are used specifically in the treatment of pain associated with the menstrual cycle in affected women. Many other gynecological disorders and conditions are also treated using the remedies derived from the black haw bark, thus the practices of the 19th-century are still followed by many herbalist. Some of the conditions treated using the bark include excessive bleeding during menopause in women, the prolapse of the uterus, the presence of morning sickness during pregnancy, and the threat or signs of miscarriage in pregnant women. The presence of colic or the presence of cramping pain along the bile ducts, pain along the digestive tract and the urinary tract are also typically treated using the black haw herb, the strong anti-spasmodic action of the plant comes into play and helps alleviate such physical conditions.

Collection & Harvesting:
Autumn is the usual period for harvesting of black haw root and trunk bark, this is preceded by the collection of bark from stems in the spring or summer. The normal way of collection of bark, is by uprooting the entire shrub and then carefully stripping off the bark from the roots and the trunk of the plant. During the summer or the spring the bark of the branches is collected and stored after drying – the difference in collecting time ensures optimal utilization of the plant as individual plants are dead when uprooted during autumn. Drying of the bark is carried out in shaded areas in all cases and these are then stored and processed to be used in herbal medications at a later time.

Click to see:What is the most important information one should know about black haw?

Click to see:- Black Haw Bark for Menstrual Cramp Cure

Disclaimer:The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider

Resources:
http://www.mobot.org/gardeninghelp/PlantFinder/plant.asp?code=G240#lbl_culture
http://www.herbs2000.com/herbs/herbs_black_haw.htm
http://www.purplesage.org.uk/profiles/blackhaw.htm

Just a Shot Away

Researchers are on the verge of developing a universal vaccine that will provide immunity to all kinds of flu viruses:-

Like all professionals, medical researchers also have grand ambitions. One of the grandest of these ambitions is to find a universal vaccine for influenza. This disease kills about 5 lakh people worldwide every year. Its potential to wreak havoc is enormous, and the only way to stop this virus in its tracks is a universal vaccine. Such a vaccine could protect us from any kind of flu, whether serious or benign. Not long ago this was considered an impossible dream , but now scientists are inching closer to achieving this dream.

At least five research groups in the world — three in the US, one in Belgium and one in Israel — have developed a kind of universal flu vaccine, and they have either already started Phase I clinical trials or will start them this year. Initial results are good in all of them — patients seem to tolerate the low doses and develop an immune response. But the big test is to come in the next year or two, when the vaccine is given to a large population and tested for efficacy. If these vaccines are good enough to stop the disease, the days of global flu-related panic may be over in about five to seven years.

Making a vaccine against a virus is a trivial or an impossible exercise, depending on the nature of the virus. Some viruses are very stable over a long time, which means that they do not mutate quickly. This means that the proteins on their surface remain the same in all varieties, as in the case of small pox, which makes it possible to develop a vaccine that remains effective over long periods. The influenza virus, on the other hand, keeps mutating all the time. Most of the mutations are small, but occasionally they change in a significant way. In fact, even in seasonal flu, the vaccine does not afford full protection because there are different kinds of flu viruses and it is not possible to design a vaccine for all of them.

Periodically, the influenza virus acquires genes from flu viruses that inhabit other animals. This is how the recent swine flu emerged. This mixing of genes makes it literally impossible to design vaccines as it is impossible to predict how and when the genes will mix and in what combination.

However, scientists had not given up trying to develop a universal flu vaccine. And now there are signs that some of them will succeed.


At the Saint Louis University (SLU) in the US, like elsewhere, researchers looked for a portion of the virus that does not change even if the virus mutates. They did find such portions, called M2, on all flu viruses. This portion is involved in most of the universal vaccines under development. “All flu viruses will have an M2 portion,” says Donald Kennedy, professor of infectious diseases at the university. SLU had done Phase I clinical trials on 377 patients and found that it was tolerated well on low doses. People also developed antibodies at levels known to protect against viral infections.

This vaccine is designed to work against the so-called A strains of the influenza virus. It is the cause of two-thirds of all flu infections and all the pandemic cases. Of the other two viruses, the C type is rare and is not fatal and the B type does not cause global pandemics. The current swine flu is an A type flu, and so is the avian flu that periodically causes a pandemic scare.

At the University of Ghent in Belgium, scientist Walter Fiers also used a similar approach to develop a universal vaccine. This vaccine was licensed to the British-American company Acambis, and Phase I clinical trials are over. Acambis had also tested whether vaccinated ferrets could survive an infection from a highly lethal avian flu strain. About 70 per cent of the vaccinated animals survived, while all the placebo controls (ferrets that were administered dummy vaccines) died.

While these two groups (from the US and Belgium) — and a few others — use the M2 portion of the virus, a private company in Israel is using a combination of regions in the virus that remain the same in all types. This company, BiondVax Pharmaceuticals Ltd, licensed the technology from the Weizmann Institute in Tel Aviv. It is using a portion of the virus called M1 in combination with other portions. “It is based on peptides that are conserved in the vast majority of the flu strains,” says Ron Babecoff, president and CEO of BiondVax. A single vaccination is supposed to provide immunity for several years for many kinds of flu viruses.
…………………………

Some viruses keep mutating all the time, but while most mutations are small, occasionally they change significantly.
BiondVax has tested the vaccine in animals. In a humanised mouse — a genetically engineered mouse that carries human genes — the vaccine was found to be 95 per cent effective, a level that is good enough for any vaccine. BiondVax has government approval to start human trials, and will do so this month. It is also working on what it calls the second generation universal flu vaccine.

But, at the moment, let us watch the progress of the first one.

Sources: The Telegraph (Kolkata, India)

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Thyroid Scan

Introduction:-
A thyroid scan uses a radioactive tracer and a special camera to measure how much tracer the thyroid gland absorbs from the blood. A thyroid scan is done to find problems with the thyroid gland. A thyroid scan may be done to check for thyroid nodules, or it may be done with a radioactive iodine uptake test (RAIU) to check how well the thyroid gland is working.

You may click to see the pictures

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A thyroid scan can show the size, shape, and location of the thyroid gland. It can also find areas of the thyroid gland that are overactive or underactive. The camera takes pictures of the thyroid gland from three different angles. The radioactive tracer used in this test is either iodine or technetium.

A radioactive iodine uptake test measures the amount of radioactivity in your thyroid after you’ve been given a relatively small dose of radioactive iodine in pill form. Your thyroid gland absorbs iodine and uses it to make hormones. Therefore, the amount of radioactive iodine detected in your thyroid gland corresponds with the amount of hormone your thyroid is producing.

Another type of thyroid scan, a whole-body thyroid scan, may be done for people who have had thyroid cancer that has been treated. The whole-body scan can check to see if cancer has spread to other areas of the body.

Why It Is Done:-
A thyroid scan is done to:

*See whether thyroid nodules are present.
*Find the cause of an overactive thyroid gland (hyperthyroidism).
*See whether thyroid cancer has spread outside the thyroid gland. A whole-body thyroid scan will usually be done for this evaluation.

How To Prepare:-
For about a week before a thyroid scan, your doctor may ask you to avoid certain foods and medicines that can interfere with the results, including thyroid hormones and shellfish (which contain iodine). You might have to fast entirely for several hours beforehand if you’ll be given a radioactive iodine pill for the test.You might also need to have blood tests that check thyroid function.

The preparation for a radioactive iodine uptake test is almost the same as for a thyroid scan. However, because you are given radioactive iodine in pill form for an uptake test, you need to wait four to six hours, and possibly as long as a day, before having the scan. (This gives the radioactive iodine time to reach your thyroid.)

Tell your doctor if you:

*Take any medicines regularly. Be sure your doctor knows the names and doses of all your medicines. Your doctor will instruct you if and when you need to stop taking any of the following medicines that can change the thyroid scan test results.

*Thyroid hormones

*Antithyroid medicines

*Medicines that have iodine, such as iodized salt, kelp, cough syrups, multivitamins, or the heart medicine amiodarone (Cordarone, Pacerone)

*Are allergic to any medicines, such as iodine. But even if you are allergic to iodine, you will likely be able to have this test because the amount used in the tracer is so small that your chance of an allergic reaction is very low.

*Have ever had a serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) from any substance, such as the venom from a bee sting or from eating shellfish.

*Have had bleeding problems or take blood thinners, such as aspirin or warfarin (Coumadin).

*Have had any test using radioactive materials or iodine dye 4 weeks before the thyroid scan. These other tests may change the results of the thyroid scan.

*Are or might be pregnant.

*Are breast-feeding.

Before a thyroid scan, blood tests may be done to measure the amount of thyroid hormones (TSH, T3, and T4) in your blood.

To prepare for a thyroid scan:

*Do not eat for 2 hours before the test.

*Do not take any antithyroid medicine for 5 to 7 days before the test.

Your doctor may ask you to eat a low-iodine diet, especially if this test is being done to check for thyroid cancer.

Just before the test, you will remove your dentures (if you wear them) and all jewelry or metal objects from around your neck and upper body.

Before a thyroid scan, you need to sign a consent form that says you understand the risks of the thyroid scan and agree to have it done. Talk to your doctor about any concerns you have regarding the need for the test, its risks, how it will be done, or what the results will mean. To help you understand the importance of this test, fill out the medical test information form .

How It Is Done
A thyroid scan is done in the nuclear medicine section of a hospital’s radiology department by a person trained in nuclear medicine (nuclear medicine technologist).

A radionuclide is either injected into a vein or given to you as a pill. Timing of the test then depends on the type of radionuclide your doctor uses, and whether you will also have an uptake test. If you are having only a thyroid scan and your doctor prefers to give a radionuclide by intravenous injection, the scan can be done within 30-60 minutes. If you are given radioactive iodine in pill form, you need to wait four to six hours, and possibly as long as a day, before having the scan. (This gives the radioactive iodine time to reach your thyroid.) If you’re having both a scan and the uptake test, you are likely to receive radioactive iodine in pill form. This allows one radionuclide to be used for both the scan and uptake test, instead of two, and eliminates the need for an injection.

After you’ve received the radionuclide and have waited the appropriate amount of time, a technician places a radioactivity detector-a camera specially designed to take pictures of radioactive objects – against your neck and takes several images. The camera itself doesn’t expose you to any radiation. This portion of the test usually takes about half an hour.

An uptake test only takes several minutes and is performed while you are sitting up. Using a device that resembles a Geiger counter, the doctor or technician places a probe several inches in front of your neck, where the thyroid gland is located, and measures the percentage of radioactivity that is retained by the thyroid gland. You return the next day for follow-up testing to obtain a second set of uptake readings, which are then compared with the first set to determine how much hormone has been formed and secreted in the interim.

If you get technetium, you may feel warm, flushed, and nauseated when it is given. Taking deep breaths to relax may relieve these feelings.

For this test, you will lie on your back with your head tipped backward and your neck extended. It is important to lie still during this test. A special camera (called a gamma scintillation camera) takes pictures of your thyroid gland from three different angles 4 to 6 hours after you took the iodine. The test takes about 10 minutes. Another scan is done again in 24 hours.

After a thyroid scan, you can do your regular activities. But you will be asked to take special precautions when you urinate. This is because your body gets rid of the radioactive tracer through your urine. This takes about 24 hours. It is important to flush the toilet and wash your hands thoroughly after each time you urinate.

How It Feels
You may find it uncomfortable to lie still with your head tipped backward.

Results:
How long is it before the result of the test is known?
For the thyroid scan, it takes an hour or more for the pictures to be developed and additional time for a radiologist to examine them. Your doctor will probably receive a report within a day or two. The scan will show the outline, shape, and position of your thyroid so that the doctor can determine whether it is enlarged and whether there are any suspicious growths or nodules. The scan also provides a rough measure of thyroid activity, although this has to be confirmed with a radioactive iodine uptake test.

Uptake test results are available immediately, but because the initial and follow-up readings must be compared, it may take your doctor a day or two to get back to you. To obtain results, your doctor determines an uptake value, which is the net result of how much iodine is picked up by the thyroid, how much is converted to hormone since the time of administration, and how much is either leaked or secreted into the bloodstream. (The thyroid normally secretes hormone in an orderly fashion based on physical needs; leakage is less controlled and indicates that the gland is damaged.) A low reading of radioactivity suggests that your thyroid gland has retained only a small amount of iodine. This generally indicates that the thyroid gland is not producing excess thyroid hormone, but has become inflamed and is unable to properly store the hormone, which then leaks into the bloodstream. A high reading suggests that your thyroid is overactive, producing an excessive amount of thyroid hormone.

A thyroid scan uses a radioactive tracer and a special camera to make a picture of the thyroid gland. The radioactive tracer used in this test is usually iodine or technetium. A thyroid scan is done to help find problems with the thyroid gland.

Thyroid scan  Normal: A normal thyroid scan shows a small butterfly-shaped thyroid gland about 2in. long and 2in. wide with an even spread of radioactive tracer in the gland.

Thyroid scan Abnormal: An abnormal thyroid scan shows a thyroid gland that is smaller or larger than normal. It can also show areas in the thyroid gland where the activity is less than normal (cold nodules) or more than normal (hot nodules). Cold nodules may be related to thyroid cancer.

A whole-body scan will show whether iodine is in bone or other tissue (iodine uptake) after the thyroid gland has been removed for cancer. The whole-body scan can check to see if cancer has spread to other areas of the body.
Resources:
https://www.health.harvard.edu/fhg/diagnostics/thyroid-scan.shtml
http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/thyroid-scan

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